The holiday season is well underway! Decorations are up, stores are crowded with an abundance of shoppers, and holiday parties have commenced. For many, it is a time of happiness and cheer. It’s a time to celebrate and appreciate time with family and friends. For others, the holidays are particularly challenging, bringing up difficult emotions or memories, and increased stress. Whether you are full of holiday spirit or struggling through the season, it is helpful to be aware of some of the top crimes committed during the holiday season:
Shoplifting from a retail store is a common crime and it is no surprise that it is even more common during the holidays. Shopping is at a peak during the holiday season. Even with seasonal help, there are frequently not enough employees to be heedful and fully attentive to the holiday crowds. Shoplifters often take advantage of these conditions and rates of theft increase significantly.
Be aware of the laws and penalties involved with theft in Washington State. Shoplifting even small items can add up to big problems and what may seem like a minor offense could have a very detrimental outcome. Theft in Washington is separated into three different categories with the degree determined by the value of items stolen. Consequences may include significant fines and substantial jail time. Please see our blog post detailing the law and penalties.
The holiday season sees an increase in robberies. Robbers aware that people are often carrying more cash and holiday crowds can provide distraction. People are often robbed in public places, parking lots, on the street, etc. Stay cognizant and mindful of your surroundings.
Robbery is defined by RCW 9A.56.190 as unlawfully taking personal property from the person of another in his/her presence against his/her will by the use or threatened use of immediate force, violence, or fear of injury to that person or their property. Both first and second degree robbery are felony offenses. Stakes are high; penalties are severe.
With increased credit and debit card activity, both online and in store, the risk of identity theft is higher this time of year. These risks exist year round but are heightened with the influx of shopping during the holiday season. Identity thieves will seek to steal your credit card numbers, social security numbers, and other personal information, using it to make purchases or to commit crimes.
Identity theft is a serious criminal offense that can wreak havoc with your finances, your credit, and even your reputation. It can take time, money, and patience to resolve, and it is essential to act quickly to limit the damage and set things straight. Please see our blog post about identity theft law. Our post describes Washington State identity theft law, gives tips to guide you through the recovery process if you suspect your identity has been stolen, and provides strategies for reducing your risk of this happening to you.
Holiday festivities and celebrations commonly include consumption of adult beverages. While sipping your eggnog or holiday cocktail, we urge you to drink responsibly and choose a designated driver; a fun and festive evening can quickly turn tragic. With the increase in celebrations and parties during the holiday season comes increases in incidents of drunk driving, fatalities and injuries related to drunk driving, and DUI charges.
We urge you to remember that a DUI will not only disrupt your party plans, it can have significant consequences on your future. You could be looking at driver’s license suspension, large fines, jail time, and the long term impacts of a criminal record. Please see our blog post about the fines and penalties for DUI convictions in Washington State and our post with party planning tips to stay safe during holiday celebrations.
Emotions often run high around the holidays with close proximity to family, escalated emotions, and elevated levels of tension stress, and irritability. Be mindful of your emotions, your behavior, and the potentially life changing consequences of letting a domestic dispute escalate out of control. Such a dispute can quickly result in criminal charges. Volatility is exacerbated when drugs or alcohol are involved and/or in times of significant stress, as is often the case during the holiday season.
It is an unfortunate reality that there are heightened levels of crime committed during the holidays. In addition to the crimes listed here, this time of year sees increased instances of vehicle theft, home burglary, and sexual assault, as well as drug and alcohol related crimes. We are hopeful that the awareness of common crimes committed around the holidays can help prevent you from becoming a victim.
If you find yourself charged with theft, DUI, assault, or other crime during the holiday season, please contact an experienced attorneys immediately. These are significant charges and you should not try to tackle them without experienced counsel to advise you appropriately and advocate on your behalf.