As a criminal defense attorney located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I am often asked about the relationship between crime and Halloween. Police records have indicated that on Halloween, crime rates tend to spike more so than any other holiday. Plenty of mischief happens on October 31st and some of it is illegal. Unfortunately, not every Halloween story ends well and it is very likely that you have heard stories of drunk driving fatalities, vandalism or sexual assaults occurring during All Hallows Eve.

In this article, I will discuss the most common crimes committed on Halloween and what you should do if arrested in Pennsylvania.

What Are the Most Common Crimes Committed on Halloween in Pennsylvania?

There is a correlation between crime and Halloween. Below are the most common crimes committed on October 31st.

Drinking and driving. Holidays have a tendency to attract drunk driving, and if you attend a Halloween party and decide to drink, make sure you have a ride home or a place to stay the night. The penalties for a DUI can be incredibly steep, including punishments like jail time, expensive fines, and a driver’s license suspension.

Alcohol can be a part of many parties, but sometimes it takes over, according to these frightening Halloween drunk driving statistics:

  • 44% of national fatal crashes during Halloween weekend involved a driver or motorcyclist with a BAC of 0.08 or higher.
  • 38% of fatal crashes that occurred on Halloween night involved a driver or motorcyclist with a BAC of 0.08 or higher.
  • 23% of pedestrian fatalities on Halloween night included a drunk driver.

According to statistics, young men between the ages of 21 and 34 are most at risk of being involved in a car accident due to buzzed or drunk driving. During 2011 and beyond, this age group comprised almost half of all drunk drivers who lost their lives in alcohol-related crashes. Because the holiday is so popular and because traffic collisions are so prevalent, law enforcement agencies around the country will be stepping up patrols.

Sexual assault. Someone being under the influence is not an excuse for not getting consent. People under the influence of alcohol or drugs are not in the right mindset to consent to sex. Being under the influence is a common way for both men and women to be taken advantage of sexually because they are not able to make good judgment calls or think clearly. Whether alcohol is being used to help a man relax for sex or to lure a girl into having sex, it is simply not consent.

1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men reported experiencing an attempted or completed rape, according to a study by the Department of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vandalism. Vandalism is a broad category crime that is used to describe a variety of behaviors. Generally, vandalism includes any willful behavior aimed at destroying, altering, or defacing property belonging to another, which can include, among other things:

  • Spray painting another’s property with the purpose of defacing
  • “Egging” someone’s car or window
  • Keying (or scratching) paint off of someone’s car
  • Breaking someone’s windows
  • Defacing public property with graffiti and other forms of “art”
  • Slashing someone’s tires
  • Defacing park benches
  • Altering or knocking down street signs
  • Kicking and damaging someone’s property with your hands or feet

Host Liability.  If you are going to let your children have a Halloween party, do not provide them with alcohol. You may think you are doing the right thing because you can supervise their drinking, but doing so makes you responsible for any future actions the teens may make while under the influence. If a teen under your supervision earns a DUI, you can face even stiffer penalties, so do not provide your underage guests with alcohol.

The Insurance Information Institute, the biggest liabilities clients face are connected with Halloween parties.

Social host liability, the legal term for the criminal and civil responsibility of a person who furnishes liquor to a guest, can have a serious impact on party throwers, Worters said. Anyone hosting a Halloween party should take steps to limit their liquor liability and make sure they have the proper insurance.

The proper insurance is typically homeowners or renters liability, though Worters notes that some policies may not cover civil judgment if party throwers are charged criminally.

This is especially true if alcohol is served to under-age party-goers. While most people are aware that furnishing alcohol to minors is illegal, a poll from the American Medical Association shows that the most common sources of alcohol for young people are adults over the age of 21.

What Should I Do If I Am Arrested on Halloween?

If you are arrested, it is vital that you know and understand your rights.

You have the right to remain silent. This step is vital for your case. If you wish to exercise that right, say so out loud. If you are arrested, do not say anything to the police. Nothing. No matter the charge or how the police frame their questions, it is always safer to keep your mouth shut and ensure your words are not used against you in the future. If you have to say something, ask to speak with your attorney.

You have the right to an attorney. If you are arrested, ask for an attorney immediately. If you are not under arrest or being detained, you have the right to calmly leave. This might be the most important step of them all. If you were arrested on Halloween, it is crucial to retain legal representation as soon as you can.

You do not have to consent to a search of your person or your belongings, but police may “pat down” your outer clothing if they suspect you have a something illegal, such as a weapon. You should not physically resist, but you have the right to say that you do not consent to any further search.

You have the right to file a written complaint with the police department or contact an attorney if you feel your rights have been violated. Be sure to note the badge number and name of the police officers.

Halloween is a time for fun, games, and parties but don’t allow the festivities overwhelm you. If you have been arrested for a crime on Halloween, call the Fishman Firm to help plan a winning strategy.