On Black Friday, hordes of people flock to stores across America right after they clean their plates in hopes of getting the best deals on products for themselves and everyone on their holiday shopping lists. Black Friday has become so big that many stores now open and begin slashing their prices on Thanksgiving day.
The hysteria of this day can lead many people to do things they may not normally do, including commit crimes. So, if you’re trying to get a great deal on Black Friday, avoid committing one of these five crimes that commonly occur on the craziest shopping day of the year.
Inciting a Riot (PC 404.6)
Stores often have long lines for a limited quantity of items. This is a formula that can easily create an angry mob of people. If you didn’t get your hands on that super-cheap flat screen TV, you may be tempted to turn your anger and that of those around you against the store.
This would be a very unwise decision because inciting a riot is a crime under California Penal Code Section 404.6. If it is found that you urged others to commit violent, forceful, or destructive acts while there is immediate danger of a riot, you could face up to 364 days in county jail and $1,000 in fines.
Brandishing a Weapon, Gun, or Firearm (PC 417)
On Black Friday in 2012, a man was arrested for reportedly pointing a gun at other shoppers after he was allegedly punched in the face.1 Even if you are acting in what you think is self-defense, it is never a good idea to brandish a weapon while shopping in public. That is because brandishing a weapon, gun or firearm is a crime under California Penal Code Section 417.
If you are convicted under PC 417, you face up to 364 days in jail and fines of up to $1,000. Your sentence could increase if the weapon was a loaded gun or if your act caused injury to another person. Getting a good deal on electronics is simply not worth the time you could spend in custody if you brandish a weapon on Black Friday.
Bad Checks/Check Fraud (PC 476a)
The deals available on Black Friday can be hard to resist, even if you don’t have the money to afford the things you want. If this is the case for you, you may be tempted to write a check for an amount that your account does not have.
Under California Penal Code Section 476a, attempting to pay with a check when you are aware that you have insufficient funds in your account is a crime. If you write a bad check for less than $950, you face up to 364 days in jail for misdemeanor check fraud. If your bad check was for the amount of $950 or more, you face felony charges punishable by up to three years in prison.
Assault and Battery (PC 240, PC 242)
If someone pushed you while running into a store or the person in line in front of you purchased the last item on the shelf, you may want to physically assault that person. However, if you do so, you could face serious consequences.
Assault is defined under PC 240 as unlawfully attempting to inflict violent injury on another person when you had the ability to do so. If your attempt to inflict injury on someone was successful, you could be charged with battery under PC 242.
An assault conviction carries up to six months in jail and fines of up to $1,000. Battery is punishable by up to six months in jail and fines of up to $2,000.
Theft (PC 484)
Many people think that a busy shopping day is a distraction for security and employees who may normally witness them stealing items off of shelves. If you attempt to steal something on Black Friday, you could face harsh penalties.
If you steal property worth less than $950, you will likely face misdemeanor petty theft charges. Petty theft is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. If you steal items valued at $950 or more, you could be charged with felony grand theft. This crime carries a sentence of up to three years in jail and fines of up to $10,000.
How to Avoid Committing a Crime on Black Friday
Attempting to steal or obtain gifts through illegal methods could lead to the worst thing possible: you spending the holidays behind bars. Sometimes, the best thing you could do to avoid committing a crime is stay away from Black Friday altogether. This will help you avoid the temptation of committing a crime. But how can you score a good deal on Christmas presents without enduring the chaos that is Black Friday? You could shop online.
Many stores offer the same deals online on Thanksgiving day and Black Friday or on Cyber Monday (the Monday following Thanksgiving). Stay inside and surf the web to get bargains from the comfort of your own home.
If you are tempted to steal toys or other items for your children on Black Friday, remember that there are other avenues you can explore to help you obtain gifts for your children. For example, you can request a toy from Toys for Tots or work with other charitable organizations that provide gifts to the less fortunate.
Contact the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or someone you know has been arrested for a crime, you should speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled criminal defense attorneys have over 35 years of experience successfully defending clients facing criminal charges. Let us help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Diego, West Covina, Torrance and Victorville, you can find a dedicated Wallin & Klarich attorney available near you wherever you work or live.
Call our offices today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.