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  • Writer's pictureBrian Foley

Houston Criminal Defense Attorneys - Top three crimes people are arrested for on Christmas Day.

Houston Criminal Defense Attorney - Brian Foley - Board Certified in Criminal Law


Today we are discussing the top three offenses for which people are arrested on Christmas Day. Most holidays have similar crimes for which people are arrested. Theft is always up there, and intoxication related offenses like DWI are often on the list. But the top ones for Christmas are, (3) Public Intoxication, (2) Theft, and (1) Assault Family Violence.


Maybe one of the most reported crimes is that of Interference with Child Custody. Although it is very difficult to be arrested for this crime, divorced couples having issues over Christmas often report each other for this crime.

Sec. 25.03.  INTERFERENCE WITH CHILD CUSTODY.  (a)  A person commits an offense if the person takes or retains a child younger than 18 years of age:
(1)  when the person knows that the person's taking or retention violates the express terms of a judgment or order, including a temporary order, of a court disposing of the child's custody;
(2)  when the person  has not been awarded custody of the child by a court of competent jurisdiction, knows that a suit for divorce or a civil suit or application for habeas corpus to dispose of the child's custody has been filed, and takes the child out of the geographic area of the counties composing the judicial district if the court is a district court or the county if the court is a statutory county court, without the permission of the court and with the intent to deprive the court of authority over the child; or
(3)  outside of the United States with the intent to deprive a person entitled to possession of or access to the child of that possession or access and without the permission of that person.
(b)  A noncustodial parent commits an offense if, with the intent to interfere with the lawful custody of a child younger than 18 years, the noncustodial parent knowingly entices or persuades the child to leave the custody of the custodial parent, guardian, or person standing in the stead of the custodial parent or guardian of the child.
(c)  It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (a)(2) that the actor returned the child to the geographic area of the counties composing the judicial district if the court is a district court or the county if the court is a statutory county court, within three days after the date of the commission of the offense.
(c-1)  It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under Subsection (a)(3) that:
(1)  the taking or retention of the child was pursuant to a valid order providing for possession of or access to the child; or
(2)  notwithstanding any violation of a valid order providing for possession of or access to the child, the actor's retention of the child was due only to circumstances beyond the actor's control and the actor promptly provided notice or made reasonable attempts to provide notice of those circumstances to the other person entitled to possession of or access to the child.
(c-2)  Subsection (a)(3) does not apply if, at the time of the offense, the person taking or retaining the child:
(1)  was entitled to possession of or access to the child; and
(2)  was fleeing the commission or attempted commission of family violence, as defined by Section 71.004, Family Code, against the child or the person.
(d)  An offense under this section is a state jail felony.
Acts 1973, 63rd Leg., p. 883, ch. 399, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1974.  Amended by Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 1111, ch. 527, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 27, 1979;  Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 444, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987;  Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 830, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1989;  Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 900, Sec. 1.01, eff. Sept. 1, 1994;  Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 332, Sec. 1, eff. May 24, 2001.
Amended by: 
Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 272 (H.B. 95), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2007.
Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 840 (H.B. 3439), Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2011.
Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 1100 (S.B. 1551), Sec. 3, eff. September 1, 2011.

Public Intoxication is one of the most common crimes people will be arrested for on Christmas day due to the fact that neighbors will call in disturbances if they hear family members arguing outdoors. If when the police arrive you have been drinking alcohol and neighbors believe that there was a fight about to break out or the police believe you are a danger to yourself or others the police may choose to arrest you for public intoxication. This is a way of ensuring that they don't have to come back out to the scene for a worse crime later. However it can land you in jail for hours or the entirety of Christmas day.


Theft is probably the second most arrested for crime on Christmas day. I remember as a prosecutor working the intake desk and seeing each case come in I was surprised by this because I thought every store was closed on Christmas day. But Walgreens and a few other stores are open and it always seemed inevitable that I would eventually get a call from an officer saying he had one in custody for shoplifting.



Finally the most likely crime for which you might be arrested on Christmas day is Assault Family Violence. Normally these are alcohol related and the stress of the holidays got to be too much. Intimate partner violence increases on holidays like Christmas but also fraternal violence or fights between brothers happens when the family gets together. Its actually quite sad. I remember as a prosecutor working the holiday intake shift at about 6:00 p.m. I would start to think about those folks out there who were starting to drink too much or starting an argument that would lead to a family violence incident wishing I could reach out to them at 6:30 instead of 9:30 or 10:00 when the police have already arrived.


If you are safe at home with your loved ones, give thanks this Christmas. For those of you with a loved one incarcerated I pray for you as well. Merry Christmas.


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