Saturday, October 26, 2013

You May Think You Have Nothing to Hide … But You Are Still Breaking Laws

James Duane, a professor at Regent Law School and former defense attorney, notes in his excellent lecture on why it is never a good idea to talk to the police:
Estimates of the current size of the body of federal criminal law vary. It has been reported that the Congressional Research Service cannot even count the current number of federal crimes. These laws are scattered in over 50 titles of the United States Code, encompassing roughly 27,000 pages. Worse yet, the statutory code sections often incorporate, by reference, the provisions and sanctions of administrative regulations promulgated by various regulatory agencies under congressional authorization. Estimates of how many such regulations exist are even less well settled, but the ABA thinks there are ”nearly 10,000.”
If the federal government can’t even count how many laws there are, what chance does an individual have of being certain that they are not acting in violation of one of them?

As Supreme Court Justice Breyer elaborates:
The complexity of modern federal criminal law, codified in several thousand sections of the United States Code and the virtually infinite variety of factual circumstances that might trigger an investigation into a possible violation of the law, make it difficult for anyone to know, in advance, just when a particular set of statements might later appear (to a prosecutor) to be relevant to some such investigation.
For instance, did you know that it is a federal crime to be in possession of a lobster under a certain size? It doesn’t matter if you bought it at a grocery store, if someone else gave it to you, if it’s dead or alive, if you found it after it died of natural causes, or even if you killed it while acting in self defense. You can go to jail because of a lobster.
If the federal government had access to every email you’ve ever written and every phone call you’ve ever made, it’s almost certain that they could find something you’ve done which violates a provision in the 27,000 pages of federal statues or 10,000 administrative regulations.
You probably do have something to hide, you just don’t know it yet.
And that’s just federal laws.

Crazy State Laws

Here is a small sample of state and local laws which are still on the books today:

  • One is not allowed to play dominoes on Sundays
  • Men are not allowed to spit in front of the fairer sex
  • One is not allowed to wear a fake mustache to church
  • It is legal to shoot bears, but walking up to a sleeping bear to take a photograph is strictly prohibited
  • It is prohibited to view a moose from an airplane
  • Cars cannot be driven in reverse in Glendale, Arizona
  • An ordinance passed in Nogales prohibits wearing suspenders
  • Women are not allowed to wear pants in Tucson
  • Mispronouncing the name of the state of Arkansas is illegal
  • It is illegal to eat an orange sitting in a bathtub
  • In Riverside, one cannot carry their lunch down the street between 11 am to 1 pm.  Kissing on the lips is illegal in that town … unless both parties wipe their lips with carbonized rose water
  • A person is not allowed to wear cowboy boots in Blythe, if he does not own at least two cows
  • It is illegal to cry on the witness stand in Los Angeles
  • Cats and dogs in Ventura County can have sex only if they have the permit to do so
  • The copyright to the term ‘San Francisco’ is held by the city of San Francisco One cannot manufacture any item with the name San Francisco without the permission from the city
  • It is illegal to dispose of used razor blades
  • It is against the law to train dogs for obedience or any other purpose
  • It is illegal to kiss your wife on a Sunday in Hartford
  • It’s against the law to eat in your car, in Bloomfield
  • It is illegal for anyone to fly over any water body without sufficient supplies of food and water
  • A husband is not allowed to kiss his wife’s breast
  • Only the missionary position is legal when having sex
  • It is an offense to bathe naked
  • It’s a crime to parachute on Sundays
  • Women are fined for falling asleep under the hair dryer and so is the salon owner
  • In Jonesboro, it is illegal to say “Oh, Boy”
  • One is fined if one does not own a boat
  • A man cannot gift his lover a box of candy that is less than fifty pounds in weight
  • It is strictly prohibited to walk along the street with a red-tipped cane
  • It is a crime to ride a merry-go-round on Sundays
  • All bachelors should be called master, not mister, when addressed by their female counterparts according to a state law
  • It is illegal to speak English. The officially recognized language is ‘American’
  • It is illegal for barbers to use their fingers to apply shaving cream on a customer’s face
  • It is illegal for women over 200 pounds wearing shorts to ride horses, in Chicago
  • An individual may be arrested for vagrancy, if he does not have at least one dollar bill on person
  • All males 18 to 50 years old must work six days a year on public roads
  • It is illegal to indulge in ‘spiteful gossip’ and ‘talking behind a person’s back’
  • It is illegal to take baths between the months of October and March
  • Mustaches are illegal if the bearer has a tendency to habitually kiss other humans
  • One is not allowed to carry a cocktail from the bar to a table; only the waiter or waitress can do it
  • A man with a mustache may never kiss a woman in public
  • The ‘Ice Cream Man’ and his truck are banned in Indianola
  • Kisses may last for as much as, but no more than, five minutes
  • Within the city limits, a man is not allowed to wink at any woman he does not know in Ottumwa
  • A husband in Ames is not allowed to drink more than 3 gulps of beer while lying in bed with his wife after making love or holding the wife in his arms
your state not here: