Christmas. From a defense attorney standpoint, I guess it has it's pros and cons.
On one hand, your clients certainly are not happy if they end up spending Christmas in jail. Even a short sentence feels much tougher if it means Christmas in jail.
And, of course, I know what the D.A.'s (and some judges') response to that is: If you don't want to spend Christmas in jail, don't commit a crime right before Christmas. As if it was that easy.
But, unfortuantely, I find that sometimes it's Christmas that spurs these crimes or these arrests. Single mothers who (barely) make ends meet all year round, decide that they'd rather risk being arrested for shoplifting than have their kids wake up Christmas morning to a tree without presents. Christmas stress can lead a recovering addict to use again. And Christmas stress can bring about a domestic violence situation in an otherwise civil relationship.
This week, I had one such domestic violence case. My client, the boyfriend/father of the children, and his girlfriend/mother of the children, had been arguing for some time, and the argument finally came to a head this week when she decided to kick him out of the house. He didn't respond well, and was arrested. I called the complainant to hear her story and to find out whether or not she wanted my client back at home. (Being able to say "I spoke to the complainant, and she wants him home" can be a huge point in getting a client RORed.)
Sometimes complainants just need a day to cool off and then want their significant other home. They regret calling the police or think it all got blown out of proportion. I was hoping to hear something like that from this significant other.
"I do not want him home. I hope they keep him in jail for a long time." Ok, that doesn't help. Maybe I should try the Christmas angle?
"He will probably spend Christmas in jail. Don't you want him home with the children for Christmas? Don't you think the children want him home?"
"No! Christmas is the reason I threw him out. I've been telling him to get a job all year, and he didn't do anything. Now we don't have money for Christmas and he's still not doing anything. That's why I threw him out in the first place. Now I can get a new man who has a job and can buy Christmas presents."
Hmmm... good point, I guess. And, just as an aside, that's always a good way to make room for a new man in your life - get your current man arrested.
Fortunately, though, sometimes the Christmas angle can sometimes work with judges and DAs. Sometimes a judge will offer a much better sentence that your client would see at any other time of the year, simply because the judge is trying to make sure your client will be out by Christmas.
Call it the Christmas spirit, I guess.
And, sometimes, you get lucky and the DA is just too busy worrying about his own holiday vacation that your client's case falls to the bottom of his list, which leads to a dismissal for failure to prosecute.
And that can be a Christmas miracle.