Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “Should I talk to the police?”
As North Carolina residents were ordered to stay home from March 30 due to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), some of you might wonder, “Does it mean that people will commit more crimes?” or, on the contrary, can it lead to a reduction in violent crimes and other crimes?
It is unknown how the coronavirus pandemic will affect crime rates in Charlotte and other parts of North Carolina, but other states have noticed plummeting crime rates. For example, as more people stay indoors during the coronavirus pandemic, major crime rates have dropped in Los Angeles and New York City, according to Business Insider.
Are There More or Fewer Crimes Committed During the Coronavirus Pandemic?
Although many law enforcement agencies report fewer crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic, criminals have not completely vanished from the streets. Many of them do not have as many opportunities to commit a crime because most people are off the streets while police patrol presence has increased in many cities.
Typically, crime is driven by two things — opportunity and motivation. As most North Carolina residents follow the “stay-at-home” order – though Charlotte parks remain “packed” despite the order – there are fewer targets for criminals to commit assault, sex crimes, robbery, and others.
Also, as many people stay home during the pandemic, houses are not easy targets for breaking and entering when they are occupied. Even businesses could face fewer crimes because they remain locked up and alarmed. However, auto theft and vehicle seizures could still be quite widespread in Charlotte and North Carolina.
Opportunity vs. Motivation for Crime During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Although the opportunity for crime declines during the pandemic, the motivation for a crime could increase in the near future. As experts predict that the U.S. is on the brink of recession, and some 47 million people could be put out of work, the motivation for a crime could skyrocket as more people begin to experience financial uncertainty and money problems.
While increased unemployment rates and a recession could result in a surge in illegal activity in North Carolina, much will depend on the federal and state government to lower the motivation through financial support, stimulus checks, benefits, and others.
In March, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order to lift quite a few restrictions on filing unemployment claims, according to The News & Observer. Since then, residents have filed over 270,000 unemployment claims, of which the majority are related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Online Fraud and Cybercrimes During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Crimes such as child abuse and domestic violence could increase during the stay-at-home order in North Carolina. Also, scammers, fraudsters, and online hackers are likely to ramp up illegal activity during the coronavirus pandemic because many people and businesses become easy targets.
White-collar crimes that may become widespread during the pandemic include financial identity fraud, financial transaction card theft, tax evasion, as well as computer crimes and Internet fraud.
As more people are hunkering down in their homes, hackers and cybercriminals are preying on vulnerable, unsuspecting, and stressed-out people who spend more time on the Internet. Talk to knowledgeable Charlotte criminal defense attorneys if you are being accused of a crime during the coronavirus pandemic. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to receive a consultation. Call our lawyers at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, at (704) 370-2828 to evaluate your options or fill out our contact form. Now taking cases throughout North Carolina with offices in Uptown Charlotte, Mooresville and Monroe.
The criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC make it their mission to zealously defend their clients on a wide range of criminal matters at both the state and federal levels. These matters may include any charge from traffic offenses; DWI/DUI; drug charges (from simple possession to possession with intent to distribute and trafficking); gun permit denials; weapons offenses; and property crimes (larceny, breaking and entering, robbery, fraud, embezzlement, white collar offenses); to sexually related offenses (indecent exposure; sexual assault, crimes against nature, removal from sex offender registry); and violent crimes (domestic violence; assault; manslaughter; homicide, murder). Other legal issues that Arnold & Smith, PLLC criminal clients may be facing include restraining orders, restraining order and probation violations, expungements; appeals; and immigration issues related to criminal charges. Our criminal defense attorneys are passionate about ensuring that individuals empower themselves by being informed about their constitutional rights, and stand at the ready to fight in the defense of those facing criminal charges.
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