While many people slow down around the holiday season, this is actually one of my busiest times of the year. In addition to my usual cadre of cases, I’m defending a green guy charged with stealing Christmas (he gave the stuff back!) and prosecuting foreclosures and evictions for a client named Mr. Potter. Since the law doesn’t take holidays, here are ten songs to get you into the holiday spirit and also highlight some of the season’s common legal issues.
The Kinks “Father Christmas”
This holiday favorite stands on its own as a rock song. The protagonist is a department store Santa who is roughed up by a group of youths who want money and not toys (this song was written during the English recession in the ’70s). One asks for a job for his unemployed father and another asks for a machine gun so that he can threaten and rob. Larceny, robbery, assault and threatening are among the potential crimes described. Additionally, this fun-sounding song delves into the relationship between poverty and crime.
Bob Rivers and Twisted Radio “Police Stop My Car” (to “Feliz Navidad” by Jose Feliciano)
A common theme in these Christmas rock songs is having too much to drink. In this song, the speaker is pulled over for a DUI. Have a sober–or get pulled over–Christmas.
The Pogues “Fairytale of New York”
Having too much to drink lands this singer in the drunk tank on Christmas Eve. At least he wasn’t driving. Public intoxication is not a crime in Connecticut however intoxication can lead to breach of peace, disorderly conduct, assault and other charges. Additionally, drug possession is referenced (“you’re an old slut on junk”). The subject couple in this song immigrated to the US and may face ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement–not frozen water) issues.
No Doubt “Oi to the World” (cover of the Vandals)
A gang fight between punks and skinheads breaks out only to be settled by Christmas magic. Before Gwen Stefani went B-A-N-A-N-A-S, she fronted No Doubt (bonus: does anyone recall the Gwen Stefani stomach-pumping rumor from way back?).
The Vandals “A Gun for Christmas”
The singer here gets a gun for Christmas to protect his other gifts. If giving or receiving a firearm, check all applicable firearm statutes to avoid legal problems. The Vandals recorded an entire Christmas record. “My First Christmas as a Woman” is another good listen.
Ramones “Merry X-Mas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)”
The song and video imply an unstable couple on the brink of family violence (here’s a tip- don’t say “Hi ho, let’s go” to your significant other). Christmas Eve is not a night to fight. If you get taken in and can’t post bond, because Christmas is a court holiday, you won’t have the chance to argue it down or be released for another day.
Blink 182 “I Won’t Be Home for Christmas”
This guy did fight before Christmas and spent the holiday in custody. On a serious note, incarceration affects not just convicted defendants but their families who will spend holidays without them.
Dr. Elmo “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer”
This is a great song for lawyers because it involves both civil and criminal issues. Christmas drinking does it again as Grandma never makes it home after drunkenly trudging through the snow. Civilly there is a potential wrongful death action against Santa. Grandpa should note that the statute of limitations in CT is two years. It might take a while sending a marshal to the North Pole to complete service. Santa will need a lawyer for the possible criminal charges, which may include manslaughter and/or homicide by a motor vehicle. His sleigh insurance carrier will likely defend him in the civil suit.
Weird Al “The Night Santa Went Crazy”
Santa really goes over the deep end in this one. Maybe it’s related to being sued and losing his license for running over an old lady or that was just an indicator of a larger problem. Santa lands in federal prison after committing cruelty to reindeer, unlawful restraint and using dangerous weapons, including a flame thrower and a Luger. I’m not sure how the U.S. has jurisdiction over the North Pole. I’m guessing it has something to do with maritime law. Note that the opening of this song is similar to “Black Gold” by Soul Asylum.
Dropkick Murphys “The Season’s Upon Us”
Just seeing that the Murphy’s recorded this song is enough to know that it’s about drinking. Although it doesn’t explicitly reference criminal activity, you know there’s going to be some fighting and probably a divorce at some point.
Have a safe and legal holiday season! If you don’t, call me.