The holidays are a time of celebration, where families and friends come together to share some cheer. But the holidays have a darker side that many aren’t fully aware of – an increase in crimes.
During the holiday season, there are several North Carolina crimes that see an uptick. Being aware of these crimes is one way to protect yourself from getting involved in them.
Here are some of the most common holiday crimes and the penalties that can be faced in North Carolina if you are found guilty of perpetrating them.
Driving Under the Influence
Driving while intoxicated occurs when you operate a vehicle with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher. Consequences for this crime are harsh and become even harsher if you are a repeat offender.
The penalties for driving while intoxicated in North Carolina range from level I to level V. Level I is the most serious, and it’s often reserved for those who:
- Are repeat offenders
- Have young children in the car with them at the time of the offense
- Hurt someone due to getting behind the wheel impaired
This level can result in up to 30 days in jail and fines of $4,000.
The penalties decrease to level V, which is the least serious. It may only result in a fine of about $200 and being sent to jail for a day, though you could lose your license for up to 30 days.
If you are found to be a habitual offender, then you can get charged with a felony DWI in North Carolina. Three or more convictions within seven years will see this status assigned to you, and it can result in up to one year in jail and treatment in a substance abuse program. You can also have your car seized.
All of those creative lawn decorations for the holidays are fun to regard, but they also draw the attention of those who want to vandalize them. In North Carolina, vandalism is a property crime. If you are found guilty of it, then you can face up to $500 in fines and be made to complete 24 hours of community service. However, it can be a felony as well if you have prior convictions.
In North Carolina, shoplifting is called larceny if you leave the store with the goods. It is used to describe any crime in which an offender takes the property of another with the intent to deprive the owner of the property permanently. Concealment of merchandise in a store is a form of larceny in the state and is usually charged if you are found with the goods while still in the store.
The penalty for shoplifting in North Carolina can be a misdemeanor or a felony. Items valued at less than $1,000 are generally considered to be a Class 3 misdemeanor for a first offense. That can result in a sentence of community service.
However, if you are convicted for a second time within three years, then it’s a Class 2 misdemeanor, which can result in 72 hours in either jail or community service as a suspended sentence. If the value of the goods is more than $1,000, a felony can be charged. That can result in as many as 39 months in prison.
A lot of people have packages delivered over the holidays. Some people drive around with the specific purpose of stealing these packages off porches. When that happens, it is considered larceny in North Carolina, as well.
The penalties for package theft also depend on the value of the items stolen. You can be charged with a Class H felony in the state, which can result in prison time.
Of course, there are also federal mail theft charges with which you may have to contend. When you take mail that has been delivered by the U.S. Postal Service from someone’s mailbox or porch, then you may be charged with federal mail theft. This is a serious charge that can result in as many as five years in prison and make you responsible for fines of as much as $250,000.
The holidays are a fun time of the year to celebrate, but you must be diligent in protecting yourself from having common crimes committed against you. It’s also important to understand that, while some crimes may be more tempting this time of year – like messing with your neighbor’s holiday decorations or conniving with friends to steal something from a store – these actions have serious consequences.