Over the years, many people have questioned whether or not Santa Claus has the right to enter homes and leave gifts behind wherever he goes. While the law may vary from country to country and state to state, criminal attorney Peter M. Liss believes that Santa has certainly not violated any laws in California.
Is Santa Breaking and Entering?
The most common crime Santa is accused of is breaking and entering, but this particular charge is not actually a crime in California. Instead, persons can instead be charged with related charges such as burglary and trespassing. Fortunately for Santa, he cannot be charged with either of these crimes in the Golden State.
Burglary Charges in California
Under California state law, in order for someone to be convicted of burglary, they must have entered someone’s property with the intent to commit a felony or a theft. Since Santa is only entering other person’s homes in order to leave gifts and is not there to commit a felony or steal, a criminal defense attorney would be able to successfully fight any burglary charges.
What About Milk and Cookie Theft?
Even the fact that he has been known to eat cookies and milk inside the homes could not be considered petty theft, as everyone knows these are traditional gifts offered to St. Nick in exchange for his kind deliveries of seasonal cheer. There is an implied, non-verbal contract that Santa may enjoy these food offerings while he delivers gifts to a home and a good theft lawyer should be able to have such charges dismissed before Miss Claus finishes knitting another elf sweater.
Is Santa Trespassing?
Simple trespassing in California requires the person to enter a residence without consent. A criminal lawyer would be able to argue Santa has implied consent because Santa only goes to houses where he is wanted, and any milk and cookies left out in the home could be used as further evidence of Santa’s implied invitation into the home. Additionally, a person not wanting Santa to visit could also take the preemptive measure of closing their chimney or being naughty.
More serious trespassing charges in California require that the person entering the property have some intent to violate the owner’s property rights. If the visitor refuses to leave when asked, damages the property, occupies the property without permission, or otherwise interferes with the owner’s rights, they are committing an act of trespassing. Of course, Santa merely enters the property, leaves gifts and then goes on to the next home and as he has not violated anyone’s property rights, a criminal defense lawyer should be able to have Santa acquitted on such charges.
Is Santa Guilty of Animal Cruelty or Slavery?
Two other crimes Santa Claus is commonly accused of are animal cruelty and slavery or sweat shop labor. But so far as anyone can tell, his reindeer are well-trained domesticated animals who are cared for very well and only expected to work one day a year. While flying across the world overnight may be stressful for many animals, the reindeer seem well-trained and prepared for the ordeal, and are not, in fact, abused in the process. The fact that each of the nine reindeer has lived and worked for so long further proves that they are, in fact, particularly healthy animals.
As for the elves, it is important to note that even if they were sweat shop laborers or slaves, the North Pole is not part of any country, so they would not be covered by any employee labor laws. That being said, those who have seen Santa’s workshop have said that the elves seem particularly happy and content in their duties, indicating that they may even be volunteers receiving free housing, food and cash stipends in exchange for their generous services. Until an elf complains or is seen being abused, there is no reason to believe they are being mistreated, even if it is only an ethical issue and not a legal matter.
Santa, if you are accused of violating any laws in California, Peter M. Liss can help. Please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Creative Commons Image by Shawn Collins