From festive gatherings and gift shopping to long vacations and road trips, the holidays are a busy and fun time of year. However, the season is also associated with a rise in crime rates.

Since police departments in California and throughout other states are on high alert during the holidays, making a simple mistake can result in harsh criminal penalties. By knowing about the most common holiday crimes, there are several steps you can take to avoid spending the season behind bars.

The following are the most common crimes during the holiday season:

  • DUI – Since alcohol is often involved in holiday events, there is a spike in drunk driving accidents and DUI arrests annually around this time of year. The police will increase the number of officers patrolling the roads and set up more DUI checkpoints during long holiday weekends to catch suspected drunk drivers. If you plan on drinking alcohol at an event, avoid driving at all costs by finding a designated driver, requesting a ride from the Uber or Lyft app, spend the night at a friend’s home, or book a hotel room near the event.
  • Sexual assault – Alcohol consumption at festive gatherings can also lead to rape and other sex crimes. Not only can alcohol cause people to loosen their inhibitions and become more open to more illicit actions, but it can also increase the risk of women being victims of rape or sexual assault. Whenever you attend an event that serves alcohol, watch your limit and what you say to others to avoid being accused of sexual harassment or worse.
  • Domestic violence – Since many people are surrounded by family and loved ones during the holidays, unresolved family conflict can cause tensions to run high and lead to a physical altercation. That is why police departments respond to more domestic violence reports than any other time of year. If you have issues with a family member, speak with a professional and try to resolve them before spending time with him/her.
  • Theft – Since malls and stores will be packed with holiday shoppers, retail workers and security guards will be distracted and overwhelmed by the large crowds, which is why shoplifting is the most common theft crime during the holidays. Although many people now do their holiday shopping online in recent years, unattended packages have become easy prey for “porch pirates.” A theft crime in California is charged as either a misdemeanor or felony offense, which can result in jail or prison time. Rather than stealing holiday gifts for loved ones, simply spending time with them can be the best gift of all.
  • Burglary – Many homeowners and their families often take long vacations during the holidays to visit loved ones in another city, state, or country, leaving their homes empty for weeks or months at a time. It is not uncommon for burglars to search for empty homes in residential neighborhoods. However, breaking into a home is considered first-degree burglary in California, which is a felony offense that is punishable by a maximum six-year prison sentence. Remember, modern homes are equipped with doorbell cameras and high-tech security systems, while neighbors could also keep an eye out for suspicious activity.

If you have been charged with a crime in Bakersfield, contact Koenig Law Office today at (661) 793-7222 for a free consultation.