Some people believe that a full moon causes weird behavior and can even increase crime rates. There are also some people that believe certain types of crimes are committed during certain parts of the year. And, unlike the moon theory, which may or may not be true (the research is inconclusive), those people who believe that certain crimes are committed during certain times of the year, like the holidays, for example, would be right.
Today on the blog, we will cover the most common crimes that are committed during the holiday season and how to avoid getting tangled up in them.
Just how Home Alone is a staple holiday film to enjoy with the family over pizza and Pepsi, criminals like Harry and Marv run rampant during the holidays. Most people across the nation look forward to this time to buy gifts for their loved ones, decorate their homes, travel to other cities and states to see their extended families, and even take vacations during the long break. Because of this, your home and all the Christmas decor and gifts that you probably spent a pretty penny on, are fair game to people looking to break into your home and steal those items.
Empty homes in residential areas are the most at risk for break-ins to occur. Furthermore, many of us are ordering gifts online to be delivered to our homes. Many gifts are stolen this way if you’re not home when the package arrives (this is considered theft, not burglary).
Burglary in Missouri is considered a second class D Felony and is punishable by up to seven years in prison and fines reaching up to $10,000.
Most homes these days have some type of security system installed, and if they don’t, many neighborhoods keep tabs on suspicious activity through apps like Nextdoor.com. So getting caught for burglary is highly likely.
In addition to gifts being stolen off of front porches, the holidays see a lot of theft in stores. And, with the influx of people in stores (during normal years), it’s difficult for shop owners and security guards to stay on top of everything. In fact, it is estimated that one in eleven people will shoplift during the holidays, but that number could be even higher! Just like homes, many stores have cameras set up everywhere to catch people that they might have missed.
The type of charge someone will end up with in Missouri if he or she is charged with Shoplifting or Theft will depend on the value of what was stolen. Anything that was stolen that is valued at less than $500 will be charged as a misdemeanor. While stolen animals or anything valued at $500 and above is charged as a felony. Shoplifting usually seems like one of the “lesser” crimes, but it often comes with the most extreme penalties including criminal as well as civil (store owners and individuals can sue you).
While online shopping may seem more convenient and even safer, at times, it can lead to one of the biggest scams that can happen to a person: Identity Theft.
According to ACI Worldwide, an electronic payment, and banking company, fraud attempts spike by 14% between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday!
Identity theft is a federal crime and carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison along with heavy fines. If you have been charged with identity theft in Missouri, contact your Springfield criminal defense attorney ASAP.
Additionally, to help keep you safe, here are some precautions you can take to avoid getting your identity stolen and to keep your debit and credit card from falling into the wrong hands:
- Don’t use public networks to access personal information like shopping sites, emails, Facebook, etc.
- Use strong passwords for all your personal data and on websites where any personal information is used.
- Only use trusted security software.
- Monitor your accounts weekly.
Even if you’re in quarantine, chances are that you will be drinking during the holidays at either your home or a friend or family member’s house. Now, if you’re staying home, the chances of getting a DUI are much lower, but traveling during the holidays is often synonymous with social gatherings that involve drinking. Because of this, DUIs increase during this time of year. And especially when paired with bad weather, driving under the influence is not only illegal, it can also be deadly. DUI penalties in Missouri are no joke, and few judges have little patience for people who drive under the influence. The bottom line is: if you’re planning on drinking alcohol during the holidays, have a plan and don’t drive.
Unfortunately, along with the joy of the season, comes stress and this stress sometimes manifests itself into domestic violence, of which there is an increase during the holidays.
During this time, people tend to start drinking more and even drug use rises. Additionally, more time off means more time around the family and if there are any issues, the holidays can seem to highlight these problems more than ever. As a result, according to the 2014 Bureau of Justice Statistics report, between 1993 to 2010, Winter had the highest rates of domestic violence (intimate partner violence). The results were nearly double compared to domestic assault during Spring.
If things start to feel stressful at home, it’s critical that you and your spouse speak with a mental health counselor or a trusted friend or family member that can help you work through your issues without resorting to physical or emotional abuse.
If you are facing charges for any of the above crimes or any infraction in Springfield, MO, don’t hesitate to contact a criminal defense attorney at Missouri Legal for a free consultation. We hope this information will make you more aware of the crimes that happen more frequently during the holidays and will help you to avoid involvement with them in any form.
Stay safe, and Happy Holidays from Missouri Legal!