There is so much we as civilians don't know or understand about everyday life. The law is far more complicated than we could ever comprehend. But we need to get on top of it.
There are some laws on the books that would leave you stunned. In fact, in some states, we're constantly breaking the law. And we never knew.
The truth is many of our laws were constructed when our founding fathers were not thinking clearly. Thanks moonshine... let's dive in...
Redditor u/Krallorddark wanted everyone to get educated about dealing with society's "rules" by asking:
What is illegal but most people don't even know it?
Part of me doesn't even want to know about some strange, never known law I maybe breaking. That way I can play dumb and it would be truth. Is dumb a proper plea in court? At this point it should be.
"In Arizona it is illegal to hunt whales. (Arizona is a desert and landlocked on all sides)."
"In Alaska it's illegal to whisper in someone's ear while they deer hunt."
"hey honey, tonight I wanna doo some "ogie doogie" with you.."
"accidentally shoots someone"
Tie It Up
"In Florida it's illegal to tie an alligator to a parking meter unless you pay for parking."
"It has to do with the fact that Florida was where many carnival and circus troops spent the winter months when not traveling. Many of them had exotic animals that they brought with them. The town of Gibsonton, FL is one the places where a large post circus population remains."
"Chico, CA, it's a $500 fine to make or have a nuclear weapon within city limits. No person shall produce, test, maintain, or store within the city a nuclear weapon, component of a nuclear weapon, nuclear weapon delivery system, or component of a nuclear weapon delivery system under penalty of Chapter 9.60.030 of the Chico Municipal Code."
PoisonScared 30 Rock GIF by HULUGiphy
"Washing oil paint down the sink. It can contaminate drinking water."
What in the world? Whales in Arizona? Well that I'd like to see. But I guess they're making sure, which is always a good thing. American laws are funny. Let's keep laughing...
Fingers OffFun Tickling GIF by Zoo BerlinGiphy
"Tickling someone without their consent is a form of assault. But yeah."
being a mule...
"There is a long list of over the counter medication you can legally purchase, but cannot take it into another country."
"You can't legally transport drugs in containers other than their original ones with original labels so transporting drugs in those pill sorting containers is technically illegal. That being said I do it all the time so."
"In Texas, there is still a law on the books that it is a crime to carry bolt cutters around. It is a leftover from the days of cattle rustlers, when the bad guys would use bolt cutters to take down barbed wire fencing. Pretty sure it hasn't been prosecuted in a hundred years."
"The failure to spend 2 hours a week practicing with a longbow. This law was setup in the middle ages and it required ever male over the age of 14 to practice with a longbow every week. The laws still in place but has been massively overlooked and forgotten."
Signoffmarker total physical response GIF by ALO7.comGiphy
"Carrying a permanent marker or other permanent-staining stationary is illegal in many countries under graffiti laws."
Now I've heard it all. Literally. This thread is too ridiculous. And we need to hire a fleet of people to start reviewing and rewriting the paperwork. I always have a permanent marker... don't ask. I better be careful.
Not every law is actually serviceable.
Sometimes, laws are just sort of oddly arbitrary and outdated. In Massachusetts, until very recently, if three women were on a lease together, the dwelling would be considered a brothel.
In other places, the laws just clearly exist because somebody did something dumb: such as hair dryers being required to list a warning on their packaging that says "do not use while sleeping."
What weird laws do you know about?
Here were some of those answers.
Not Trespassing Apparently
In Missouri it used to be illegal to have oral sex. When I was a teenager this couple (Married 11 years) was actually jailed for it. A neighbor had just walked into their house, caught them then called the police.
Later I found out that it was to deter gay people. How stupid can folks be?
Scotland has three court verdicts: Not Guilty, Guilty, and "not proven". The third basically means "we know you likely did it, but we can't actually prove it."
We Love Our Dairy
It's illegal to serve margarine at restaurants unless customers explicitly ask for it.
Violators face up to $500 fines, and 3 months behind bars. Subsequent offenses can get you up to a $1,000 fine and a year in jail.
This Somehow Wasn't The USA
Lol I don't live there anymore, (I moved recently because of the coronavirus), nor was I actually from the country, but it was recent made illegal to say the words 'corona' 'coronavirus' 'COVID-19'.
The whole country was pretty messed up. . . I'm happy to have left. It was the last flight out the country and it had to be chartered. . .
When Being Awkward Was Illegal
Ireland had another one for a while where 2 kids under the age of consent could have sex, but if they attempted to have sex and failed/didn't go through with it, it was a crime. Wasn't ever enforced or anything, was just one of those technicalities people figured out and had a laugh at
You can't act suspiciously with a salmon.
The phrasing is "Handling Salmon in Suspicious Circumstances." That means, if your salmon was likely to have been poached you can go to jail even if you didn't poach it yourself. The UK is a small island you can't let everyone there go and poach wildlife or there won't be any left.
How Do You Even Get Penalized For This
Not on the mainland, but on the Norwegian archipelago Svalbard it is illegal to die. If you are dying you must be flown over to the mainland to die there, or you'll break the law.
I think you're also not legally allowed to stay (or arrive/disembark) if you are sick, or require medical attention beyond superficial treatment. For some reason it's unfeasible to set up a permanent treatment facility for all the 2600 people there.
God Save The Queen
The Criminal Code of Canada is very protective of the Queen.
Acts intended to alarm Her Majesty or break public peace
49 Every one who wilfully, in the presence of Her Majesty,
(a) does an act with intent to alarm Her Majesty or to break the public peace, or
(b) does an act that is intended or is likely to cause bodily harm to Her Majesty,
is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.
Selling defective stores to Her Majesty
418 (1) Every one who knowingly sells or delivers defective stores to Her Majesty or commits fraud in connection with the sale, lease or delivery of stores to Her Majesty or the manufacture of stores for Her Majesty is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.
He Was Just Being A Jerk
When my friends and I were 15 we bought some cheap kites at the dollar store and decided to take them with us downtown (we live in Chicago) and fly them. We started trying to fly them by the Art Institute/Millennium Park when we got stopped by a cop. He told us that kites were not allowed to be flown anywhere in the downtown area and if he saw us doing it again he would give us a $250 citation. It seemed kind of weird since both Millennium and Grant park, along with other smaller parks, were in the downtown area, but we didn't argue.
Years later I found out that it actually was an obscure law, but a law that was repealed in the 1970s. So, we were fine flying our kites and that cop just didn't like us having fun.
And Finally, Good Ole 'Murica
- Vermont banned banning clotheslines
- You can't throw rocks at trains in Wisconsin or force people to get microchipped
- Blasphemy is illegal in Michigan as is being drunk on a train
- You cannot make fake drugs in Arizona
- Dogs can't hunt big game in California
- No biting while boxing in Utah and the same state does not allow happy hour sales
- Swearing at sports events is illegal in Massachusetts (I wonder why all Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, and Patriots fans aren't constantly taken into custody) and EMTs cannot help dogs there either
- Can't use false names at hotels in New Hampshire
- Pretending to be religious figures in Alabama is illegal as is playing dominoes on Sunday
- Severance, Colorado just made throwing snowballs legal in 2019
- To hold public office in Texas, you must believe...in something. Texas also does not allow you to sell your eyes
- Bingo games cannot last more than 5 hrs in North Carolina
- You cannot sniff glue with the intent of getting high in Indiana
- Biting a person's arm off is illegal in Rhode Island
- Adultery is illegal in New York
- Teachers in Tennessee cannot speak to students about hand-holding
- Dance halls cannot be close to cemeteries in South Carolina and they cannot be open on Sunday
- Alcohol sales can be illegal during hurricanes in Florida and it is illegal to corrupt public morals in the same state and doors must open outward in public buildings (makes sense)
- You cannot use x-rays for shoe fittings in Washington (which used to be common)
- You cannot hold a fish and firearm at the same time in Wyoming
- R rated movies cannot be played in drive-in theaters in Delaware and you can forget about selling your dog's hair there too
- You cannot live on a boat for more than 30 days in Georgia
- Southington, Connecticut has a ban on silly string
- Derby, Kansas has made hitting a vending machine illegal and screeching your tires too
- Hawaii doesn't allow billboards
- Everett, Washington only allows hypnotizing indoors
- Enfield, New Hampshire doesn't allow hunting in cemeteries
- If you have an STD, you cannot get married in Nebraska
- All tanning beds in Iowa must have warning signs (not a bad thing)
- You cannot lie down on a sidewalk in Reno, Nevada
- You cannot leave your car door open too long in Oregon nor throw your urine out of a vehicle either
- You cannot molest butterflies in Pacific Grove, California
- Farmers cannot sell pickles at farmers markets in Connecticut
- You cannot wear a bulletproof vest while committing a crime in New Jersey
Lawyers are faced with upholding the law or challenging the law every working day of their lives.
Sometimes, the case challenges the lawyer's own moral code. Those challenges really define how those people practice law--and they possibly change it.
Here were some of those answers.
Family law attorney here. I've done plenty of divorces and custody dispute cases, that most stuff doesn't get to me. It's only when the kids are put in a bad situations between one or both of the parents being some type of addicts that really gets to me.
One that was especially hard for me was a divorce where I represented dad. Mom was a raging alcoholic that would bring random guys home many nights from the bar while the dad was working. I saw video and heard phones calls from their little boy calling the dad at work at like 2AM because he was tired, but couldn't go to sleep because mom was playing loud music and had "friends" over still partying.
I was on the right side of that one, but seeing and hearing that stuff with the little boy really got to me.
During my days of insurance defense, I spent one lovely afternoon bickering with counsel for a co-defendant over who would be responsible for paying the $5000 that was keeping us from settling. We did this while on-site at the plaintiff's home for a deposition. Plaintiff was hit by a semi-truck (i.e., the truck hit his actual body) on the interstate, and while it managed not to kill him, it tore off an arm and a leg, and shattered most of everything else. He was almost entirely immobile, confined to a power chair that he could barely operate, and confided to us that if he had function in his remaining hand, he'd shoot himself.
Oh, the $5000? It was based on an estimate to renovate his bathroom so that he could actually use it. He'd been using a bedpan in the living room.
I felt like a complete jerk sitting in front of him and arguing about such an insignificant sum.
My friend's dad is an attorney. He started out in criminal defense, and lucked out on one of his first cases. A friend he'd known for years' wife was horribly murdered while he was away, dismembered with an axe. Her body had been found by a fluke, and there was a tiny bit of circumstantial evidence pointing to the husband. He was an upstanding citizen, the two had never fought, it was a silly case. The lawyer got the husband acquitted, and while they were having celebratory drinks, the husband admitted he'd actually done it.
My friend's dad walked out of the bar and switched to corporate law.
Please don't ask for specifics.
Had a case where a guy shot and killed a security guard that slapped him across the face for selling drugs near a store.
I knew the guy had done it.
It was close to midnight, the crime scene had poor lighting and the shooter wore a hoodie. Only eye witness that showed up for the trial had told the police at the time of the crime that the suspect was black. The defendant wasn't caucasian but wasn't black either. That, IMO, was the argument that won the jury over. Defendant found not guilty.
He thanks me while in tears. His mother and grandmother bring me cake and a thank you note afterwards.
Less than a year later I'm watching the news and they're reporting a crime where a crew held up three families hostage while robbing their apartments. They beat up the janitor very bad. They tied the families up and locked them in one of the apartment's bathroom while threatening to thow a grenade inside if any of them decided to wisen up.
For a brief second one of the robbers looks right into an elevator camera before spray-painting it. Close-up on the guys face.
I think you can imagine whose face I was looking at.
In Spite Of
I represented a mom in a custody case. Both parents fighting for primary. Mom was admittedly a mess and suffering from some mental health issues. Dad took the kid and didn't bring them back for a few months in violation of the order. I got the kid back. Then met with mom and kid and realized kid was doing way better with dad and should be with him. Tried to reason with mom, she didn't listen. Ultimately the child protection office got involved and child was placed with dad. I last saw mom many years ago and she was still not in a super healthy place and child was still with dad. So best ending happened and not because of me.
Not my case, but at a previous firm, a partner sent out a firm-wide email congratulating his team on a great win. It detailed how their win meant that our client, Giant Fossil Fuel Company, wasn't liable for damage to the environment caused by leaks in their pipes. Instead, the tax payers would be covering the cost. The partner went on to say something to the effect of "this saves our client $x billion a year in environmental cleanup and pipe maintenance."
For some reason, even though it wasn't my case, that one has always stuck with me.
Did a bail hearing back in my second year of practice as duty counsel, think public defender type role. The guy had trapped his girlfriend in the cab of his pickup. Twisted one arm up behind her back to her shoulder and broke it. Then did the other side.
I had to run the bail hearing for him. While she and her family were sitting in the front row of the court. She had both arms in casts and in slings. Thankfully, his surety (the person posting his bail) melted down on the stand and we had to adjourn. By the time he was up for bail again he'd retained private counsel. Who put the same surety up on the stand even after I warned him not to. In front of the same Justice.
Upside? He got detained.
Open And At Large
I don't typically do family law but I have a case where we suspected the mother had munchausen by proxy, which if you've seen the Hulu movie "Gypsy" you know how messed up it is. The child was always fine with the dad. But mom would take the child to the doctor every other day. When they didn't give the answer mom wanted, she'd get a second, third (etc) opinion. Mom was oddly close to the nurses and doctors. Child had some type of cancer where child needed a colostomy bag and mom didn't clean it. It was infected so bad that child can't wear it anymore and child is getting more sick and dying. Mom (allegedly) pushed her child in the shower and it messed up their head. It's possible mom is feeding her drugs too because child puked blood from time to time. Now the child has seizures once a week from the shower incident. Mom spent $400,000 on medical bills in one year. Mom made a fraudulent GoFundMe and only used ~$200 of the thousands received on medical bills. The page has since been removed, and the case is still open until we can find more experts to testify.
Get Out (Leave) Right Now
MLMs are considered pyramid schemes in my country and both are banned in order to protect consumers. It's a crime to establish an MLM. Public prosecution here got wind of an MLM operating and shut it down, closing up the premises and everything.
My firm was hired by the MLM to defend their case and establish to the public prosecution that they should be able to continue to operate. I had to prep all the defences while absolutely DESPISING MLMs and thinking that they're run and operated by predatory pieces of shit.
We had several high up employees from the MLM's head office in the US fly halfway across the world to us multiple times for status update meetings (lasting 15-30 minutes or so) that could have literally been done over email or conference call. Nope; they just had so much money to burn off the backs of vulnerable people who have 0 chance of succeeding in "their business" that a gang of them would fly over every so often to ask "so how's it going?"
I thanked my lucky stars every time the public prosecution rejected one of our arguments and eventually the MLM gave up and cleared out of the country. Never been so happy that my arguments were unsuccessful.
Laws are amiable. We know this. They often change with the times, with enough revolution that is. Laws are there to protect and serve, however they can be too complex and just downright odd and often absurd.
Laws are made to be broken. That is a theme in life and a truth. Sometimes insane laws end up on the books because some inept person made an error while swilling tequila. Must the rest of us suffer?
Redditor u/SkrybaArtura wanted everyone to share some thoughts about the current laws of the land by asking.... What stupid laws exists because people were assholes?