The holiday season can be a stressful time. There’s an emphasis on consumerism and gift giving that some people can’t afford, drinking and partying at family get-togethers and holiday parties, and many people get depressed if they don’t have anybody to celebrate with.
The above factors make for a season that breeds criminal activity. These are some of the types of crimes commonly committed during the holidays:
DUI (California Vehicle Code Section 23152)
Because a lot of people drink during holiday celebrations, police are on the alert for drunk drivers.
If you are convicted of DUI, you could be sentenced to up to six months in county jail, fined up to $1,000, and your driver’s license could be suspended or restricted for six months. These penalties increase if you have previously been convicted of DUI within 10 years. 1
You can avoid the harsh consequences of a DUI by planning ahead for your holiday celebrations. For example, if you are planning to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Orange County, the Orange County Transit Authority offers a free pass, so those who need a ride can take the bus for free. You can also plan to take a cab or get a hotel room if you plan to drink. A cab ride or a hotel room will cost you a lot less than the consequences that comes with a DUI conviction.
Christmas can be a sad time if you don’t have enough money to get toys for your kids. Organizations you can contact for help providing gifts for children include:
Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to steal Christmas presents for your loved ones. They would be very sad if you had to spend Christmas in jail. Below are some of the penalties you could face for stealing:
If you are charged with stealing property valued at more than $950, it is considered grand theft under California Penal Code Section 487. 3 Grand theft is a wobbler, meaning you could be charged with either a felony or a misdemeanor. You could be sentenced to 16 months, two, or three years in county jail for a felony grand theft conviction. A misdemeanor grand theft conviction could result in up to one year in county jail.
Petty Theft is theft of property valued at less than $950 under California Penal Code 488. Petty theft is classified as a misdemeanor. If you are convicted of this crimes, you could be sentenced to up to six months in county jail and fined up to $1,000.
Cyber Fraud (California Penal Code Section 502)
The FBI issued a warning regarding cybercrime during the holidays, advising people not to click on links or give personal information to unsolicited emails. 4
Computer fraud is a broad category, and includes gaining unauthorized access to computer databases in order to steal the information stored in the records, and using that information to commit a crime, like theft. An example would be hacking into the computer database of a major department store in order to gain access to customers’ credit and debit card numbers, then using the information to make unauthorized purchases. 5
Computer crime that does not involve injury and where the value of the stolen goods is under $950 is a misdemeanor. If convicted of misdemeanor computer fraud, you could face up to one year in county jail, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
If the value of the stolen goods is more than $950, you could be charged with a felony. A felony computer fraud conviction is punishable by 16 months, two, or three years in county jail, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. 6
Burglary (California Penal Code Section 459)
During holiday shopping, some people have had their cars burglarized after leaving packages inside the car instead of locking up the packages in plain view. Other people have had their homes burglarized for gifts. It can be tempting for somebody who doesn’t have any money during the holidays to see a brightly lit Christmas tree inside of a house with lots of presents piled underneath.
Burglary is defined as entering any structure with the intent to steal. The definition of structure is broad. Some examples include:
- a business,
- a car,
- a tent,
- a storage unit,
- a house,
- a boat,
- a motel room, or
- a cargo container.
Entering a residence with the intent to steal or commit a felony is considered first degree burglary. First degree burglary is considered a strike under California Penal Code section 1192.5. If you are convicted of first degree burglary, you could face two, four, or six years in state prison. If you have a prior strike, you could receive double time. 7
Entering any non-residential structure, such as a car, with the intent to steal or commit a felony is considered second degree burglary, also known as residential burglary. Second degree burglary is a wobbler, which means it can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. If you are convicted of misdemeanor commercial burglary, you could face up to one year in county jail and a $1,000 fine. Felony commercial burglary is punishable by up to three years in county jail.
Domestic Violence (California Penal Code Section 243(e)(1))
Sometimes the holiday stress can be overwhelming, and people might lash out towards those people they feel closest to. A holiday argument could very well escalate into allegations of domestic violence.
California is very aggressive in prosecuting domestic battery cases, and the state funds special prosecutorial units to deal with this crime. When a case of domestic violence is reported to law enforcement, the state will likely press charges even if the alleged victim does not want to pursue criminal charges.
If you are convicted of the misdemeanor crime of domestic battery, you could face up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $2,000, or both. 8
Counterfeiting (18 U.S.C. Section2320)
Because Christmas is a very profitable time of the year for retailers, people who sell counterfeit goods might also try to make a big profit during the holidays. When somebody produces an unauthorized copy of a trademark protected product, it is a counterfeit product. 9 Because manufacturing and selling counterfeit goods is a crime that frequently crosses state and international borders, it is under federal jurisdiction.
If you manufacture or produce counterfeit goods, or sell products that you know are counterfeit, you could face up to 10 years in federal prison and fines of up to $2 million. 10
Call Wallin & Klarich If You Have Been Arrested for a Holiday Crime
At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled attorneys have been successfully defending clients facing both state and federal charges for over 30 years. If you or a loved one is arrested for a crime, you need to talk to an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney immediately. We know that holiday stress can cause people to do things they would not normally do, and we will be there to defend you if you have been accused of committing a crime during the holidays. We will meet with you immediately to review the facts of your case, and plan a defense strategy that will help you get the very best outcome possible.
With offices located in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.
1. [http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displayText.xhtml?lawCode=PEN&division=&title=13.&part=1.&chapter=5.&article= ]↩
2. [http://www.ehow.com/list_6312700_organizations-poor-kids-christmas.html ]↩
4. [http://www.fbi.gov/news/news_blog/holiday-shopping-tips ]↩
5. [http://money.cnn.com/2013/12/22/news/companies/target-credit-card-hack/index.html ]↩
6. [http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displayText.xhtml?lawCode=PEN&division=&title=13.&part=1.&chapter=5.&article= ]↩
7. [http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displayText.xhtml?lawCode=PEN&division=&title=8.&part=1.&chapter=9.&article= ]↩
9. [http://www.inta.org/TrademarkBasics/FactSheets/Pages/Counterfeiting.aspx ]↩
10. [http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/2320 ]↩