9 scenes of holiday crime and justice in the movies

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It isn’t often that the courtroom (or the crimes that lead up to it) is considered heartwarming or funny or charming. But somehow Christmas and the end of year season manages to have that effect on just about anything. We gathered up these holiday cases that make even Scrooge and the Grinch say “awwww”.

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Miracle on 34th Street

THE classic courtroom scene: “Since the United States Government declares this man to be Santa Claus, this Court will not dispute it. Case dismissed!”

It will get you every time.

And check out this coverage of a real-life re-enactment of the iconic scene in Delaware.

Trading Places

Gambling, forgery, Christmas parties, New Year’s Eve celebrations, and a man framed for drug dealing: this Christmas movie has a little bit of everything from comedy to action.

A Case for Christmas

When a greedy businessman launches a class action lawsuit against Santa Claus, blaming him for emotional damage due to inaccurate gift giving, a struggling attorney steps in to represent Kris Kringle. Tune in for traditional Hallmark charm and several heartwarming scenes of people realizing the true impact of gifts from Santa.

It’s a Wonderful Life

George Bailey’s arrest warrant becomes irrelevant at the Christmas party, as neighbors pitch in to recover the lost $8,000 in Building and Loan deposits. Guaranteed tearjerker from start to stop.

The Angel of Pennsylvania Avenue

During the Great Depression, an unemployed Detroit man is arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, prompting his three children to travel 1,000 miles to the White House in search of help from President Herbert Hoover in order to have their father home for Christmas.

We’re No Angels

In this Humphrey Bogart classic, three escaped convicts change the course of a family’s life (for the better) over the Christmas season.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Burgermeister Meisterburger declares toys to be illegal, immoral, unlawful AND anyone found with a toy in his possession will be placed under arrest and thrown in the dungeon! Watch the holiday special that also explores possible origins of holiday traditions.

Jingle All the Way

Who can’t help but empathize with the frazzled parent determined to get the perfect gift for their child? Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character went a little farther than usual, and one viewer tallied up the nearly 50 crimes committed on-screen in this Christmas favorite.

The Santa Clause

What legal professional can help but appreciate the contract humor in the Santa “clause”? Tim Allen is at his best as the newest Santa.


What are your favorite holiday movies–with or without courtroom scenes or criminal activity? Share your recommendations here!

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