Halloween is a favored holiday in the United States by both children and adults alike. However, unlike other years there’s been a recent spike in crime nationwide: throwing many Halloween plans into limbo as parents decide whether it’s safe to leave the house at night. It is important to know a few things about the country and Baltimore’s recent crime wave, especially regarding avoiding crime and keeping your family safe. Read on to learn more about:
- The More Common Crimes Law Enforcement Expects Will Spike on Halloween;
- Current Crime Spikes in Maryland that May Impact Your Halloween; and
- Knowing What You Should and Should Not Look Out for on Halloween.
More Trick than Treat: Crime Spikes on Halloween and What to Expect
Is there a root to Halloween crime spikes? They definitely exist, but what drives them on that one night a year as opposed to any other?
For one, parties and their associated acts—namely, alcohol use—are tradition come Halloween. This is not to say going to a party leads to crime, but consuming alcohol may lead to regrettable decisions that lead to jail time or, even worse, harm to yourself and others.
Instances of driving-under-the-influence drinking tend to surge around Halloween. This leads to an uptick in fatal crashes, pedestrian fatalities, and drunk driving arrests across the board. There is a reason you see a heightened police presence at the end of October.
DWI/DUIs are serious and could lead to fines and jail time if you’re not careful. Got minors in your car while drunk? Even more fines. Depending on the charge, you could see anywhere from 8-12 points on your license, which may lead to revocation and negative insurance outcomes. Avoiding DWI/DUIs at all costs is a must if you’re looking to live “business as usual” for the foreseeable future.
Additionally, underage drinkers may face similar dangers on the road or even if caught by police. Getting caught with alcohol may result in up to a $500 fine and a scheduled court appearance. Use a fake ID? They may also issue a citation for false documentation. These are things you don’t want to face as a minor, especially considering how many consequences they could have on your future.
There are other crimes outside alcohol that spike around Halloween, as well. Parents: if you take your kids out trick-or-treating, you may be vulnerable to break-ins and robbery. In fact, insurance companies claim property-related crime is a consistently noticeable crime spike during Halloween.
Depending on the circumstances, you may face up to 15 years in prison on a robbery charge. Armed robbery, though? Add five years. Of course, these are maximum sentences, and your attorney would most likely be able to negotiate for a less harsh sentence. However, avoiding crime altogether is a must, especially considering the steep penalties associated with getting caught.
Finally, it is common to see heightened vandalism at the onset of the Halloween season. We can say with some confidence that small things like silly-stringing a tree will not get you a vandalism charge, but if caught, could lead to mischief or trespassing charges—depending on the circumstances. Maryland law defines vandalism as malicious destruction or defacement of property and categorizes damages by dollars cost. You could face anything from jail, fines, community service, or paying restitution if caught and convicted of vandalism.
These constitute the more common and expected Halloween crimes and upticks law enforcement tracks, but what about less common and more recent trends?
Baltimore’s Crime Wave: How it Fits in the Bigger Picture
Recent years, there has been a lot of media attention on crime around the country. Data suggests that homicides, robberies, assaults, and so on are up in some categories by double digits. 2021’s data has yet to be released, but 2020 saw a 30% jump in murders. Even so, initial reports suggest a further rise in crime from 2020.
Baltimore has not been saved from this crime wave. Over the summer, the city’s nearly-300 homicides made national headlines, while local news outlets circulated stories of mass shootings and other violent crimes on a weekly basis.
Unfortunately, we have seen continued crime throughout the fall into the Halloween season. The city’s wave of homicides has persisted into October, which has led to heightened security concerns around major city events and festivities—like the recent Baltimore Marathon and, of course, Halloween.
Law enforcement has been highly aware and active in curtailing homicides, but it is important to take care of yourself and your family, too. Be safe when going out this Halloween season, and make sure to keep your eyes on the news to stay informed of any imminent crimes in your area. If anything happens—that is, you are injured somehow as a by-product of an act of crime, you should contact an injury lawyer to ease the burden on your family.
Other than that, the best thing to do is be cautious—but do not be overly cautious to the point of not having any fun. You should know about relevant risks while also being aware of falsehoods often spread around during Halloween.
The Things You Should and Should Not Be Afraid of on Halloween
Not only is Halloween an intentionally scary and spooky time, but some real-world fables and myths exist only to make people paranoid.
Principle to these is the fear that trick-or-treating is dangerous because someone may poison or hide razors in your children’s candy. This fear dates back to the 1980s and 90s, where concerned columnists advised parents to be hyper-vigilant when it comes to screening their child’s unpackaged candy.
Any validity to this? Some, but not much at all. Authorities certify many, if not all, reports of poisoned candy as hoaxes. Likewise, it’s easy to mitigate the chance of harm if you just check on their candy. Chances are, you’ll be able to spot a razor blade.
Outside of this actually happening to your child (rare chance it will, as we’ve said), the next-scariest thing that may occur is being accused of poisoning candy. If someone accuses you of poisoning candy, you may see yourself at the center of an investigation. Luckily, these are relatively easy accusations to dispute, and an experienced defense attorney could help you explain your case to authorities.
On the other hand, we mentioned parties earlier—a place where, when alcohol is in the mix, things may go down a negative path. The last thing you want to wake up to the first of November is an accusation of sexual misconduct: something that, regardless of your own culpability, you should take seriously. It is not like sexual assault allegations are known to skyrocket specifically on Halloween, but parties and gatherings are common instances where they originate.
In any case, contact our offices for a free initial consultation if you run into more tricks than treats this Halloween season. Regardless of the time of year, our attorneys are experienced in handling any type of crime-related situation and making sure you and your family receive the best outcome possible. So take time to enjoy the holiday—let us do the rest.