SHERIFF'S CORNER: Santa Claus, good guy or career criminal?

You may know him as Kris Kringle, Saint Nicholas (aka St. Nick), Pelznickel, the Jolly Pink Giant, Dave Titus and "Sinn"terklaas.

With more aliases than Al Capone or Bugsy Malone, what is this guy hiding from?

Distributing random "bags of goodies" to underage kids, in the middle of the night ... what exactly is in those bags?

How can the same person be at the shopping mall, but also be in a parade downtown at the same time?

And these items he's leaving behind, who's providing the funds for this? How does he know what "you" want for Christmas? The intel must have been wrong in my case because I never asked for a pair of long underwear for each and every Christmas.

It doesn't take Barnaby Jones to see that something fishy is going on here.

But it appears nobody cares. This guy has been allowed to get by like he's the fat Peter Pan for more years than I can imagine. And "he" decides who is on the naughty list?

In this edition of the "Sheriff's Corner," I explain the long list of crimes committed by the suspect known as Santa Claus.

(Disclaimer: This is all done in satire. No Santa haters here. This is all in fun.)

Violation No. 1: Entering Without Breaking (MCL 750.111)

This is the obvious. Now, the specific intent element gets a little tricky since this specific intent must be present at the time of entry (i.e. concurrence). If you happen to be on the naughty list and Santa comes down your chimney with the sole purpose of filling your stocking with coal, he would be guilty. (Assuming of course that leaving coal in your stocking, is a crime).

Violation No. 2: Trespassing (MCL 750.552)

Trespass to land is the physical invasion of a plaintiff's real property and usually occurs when the defendant intentionally enters plaintiff's land without permission. Santa lands his sleigh on people's roofs and then breaks into their homes through the chimneys.

Now, I suppose you could argue that he has permission to come into some people's homes, but that's a stretch.

Violation No. 3: Unlawful Entry Into the U.S. By Private Aircraft (USC Title 14 Part 99)

Santa enters and exits the United States as he pleases. By doing this, he is violating federal law.

The U.S. airspace is governed by regulations set by FAA Regulations, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Department of Defense. Before entering or exiting the country, a private aircraft must provide notice of arrival, departure, and passenger manifests through the Advance Information Passenger System.

Violation No. 4: Unregulated Toys (USC Title 16 CFR Part 1250, plus others)

Santa brings unregulated toys into the country. Toys cannot be imported into the United States without complying with the U.S. Customs and Borders Protection. Toys and children’s articles must also comply with the Federal Hazardous Substances Act.

With that, third party testing and certification are required for toys designed or intended primarily for children 12 and under. An approved laboratory must perform testing to show that any toy complies with the toy standard.

Violation No. 5 Unlawful Labor Practices (Michigan Public Act 176 of 1939)

Santa's workshop is literally an accident waiting to happen. The elves have no protective equipment. There is an Abominable Snowman on the shop floor. Do the elves have the opportunity to form a union? Are all these elves working for free? If not, are they getting the minimum wage? Seems kind of shady of that operation he has going up there at the North Pole.

I would also point out that forcing his elves to work while listening to Christmas music all year round is definitely a hostile work environment. Especially if it's the Chipmunks Christmas song. No, I don't want a hula-hoop!

Violation No. 6: CSC; 4th Degree (MCL 750.520e)

Why is mommy kissing Santa Claus? Is she doing this willfully, or was she coerced because she feels that by not doing so, maybe the kids will not be put on the naughty list?

The law states: (1) A person is guilty of CSC in the fourth degree if he or she engages in "naughty" contact with another person and if any of the following circumstances exist: ... (iii) When the actor coerces the victim to submit ... to retaliate in the future against the victim, or any other person, and the victim believes that the actor has the ability to execute that threat."

So, no kiss ... no GI Joe, only a lump of coal.

Violation No. 7: Animal Cruelty (MCL 750.50)

Forcing nine reindeer to travel thousands of miles in a short period of time, must take a toll on the overall wellbeing of the reindeers. And what's up with the same reindeer being used for over a thousand years? Doesn't he have any back-up reindeer? You never hear about Pokey, Smokey, Lazy, Porker, Stumpy, Stinky, Cooter, Cujo or Tweeker pulling Santa's sleigh.

And what's up with Rudolph? I don't think any of us have seen a reindeer with a bright red nose that "glows." Is he being forced to wear a cruel LED beacon or has he been given a dose of lithium to provide this effect or is there a cattle prod stuck on his behind? Something isn't stirring the Kool-Aid here.

Violation No. 8: Invasion of Privacy (MCL 750.539a)

He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you’re awake. He knows when you are bad or good? Really!? Is Santa some cyber criminal who knows how to break into your smartphone or home computer? Is he leaving cameras up after leaving toys in your house, or is there some type of surveillance device inside one of those toys? Is Alexa some sort of covert surveillance device used by Santa? The law is clear on this being illegal:

(1) "Private place" means a place where one may reasonably expect to be safe from casual or hostile intrusion or surveillance but does not include a place to which the public or substantial group of the public has access.

(2) "Eavesdrop" or "eavesdropping" means to overhear, record, amplify or transmit any part of the private discourse of others without the permission of all persons engaged in the discourse. Neither this definition or any other provision of this act shall modify or affect any law or regulation concerning interception, divulgence or recording of messages transmitted by communications common carriers.

(3) "Surveillance" means to secretly observe the activities of another person for the purpose of spying upon and invading the privacy of the person observed.

(4) "Person" means any individual, partnership, corporation or association.

Violation No. 9: Excessive Speed (CFR Title 14(I)(F)Pt 91(B)§91.117)

How does he cover such a vast distance in a 24 hour period? C'mon man, it just cannot be done. If he does, he would be violating the speed limits under federal law for aircraft.

The law states: (a) ... no person may operate an aircraft below 10,000 feet ... at an indicated airspeed of more than 250 knots (288 mph).

So, basically he would have to travel at a higher distance to go fast, but then he wouldn't be able to stop at each and every house in that short period of time. Clearly Santa has a lead foot.

Well, there you have it. Kris Kringle or Kris Kriminal?, you be the judge. On behalf of myself and the Lake County Sheriff's Office, we wish each and everyone of you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Let's hope that 2021 treats us better than 2020.

— This information is provided to you for clarification on specific laws, and not legal advice. This is not to be construed as a personal opinion, agreement or disagreement of any specific law. Topics covered are for educational and informational purposes only. As needed, excerpts from other articles are used for reference and/or content. If you have any questions on any specific topic, you may always email me your questions to