Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • Civil rights attorney Harvey Silverglate states that there are so many laws on the books that

  • it's possible the average American commits three felonies a day.

  • Here are some of the illegal things YOU might do every day, and you might be surprised how

  • Netflix can get you in serious legal trouble.

  • It doesn't take much to break the law.

  • Let's say you're waiting for the bus on a hot summer day in a major American city.

  • The sun's beating down on you, and the bus is running late.

  • You decide to take the weight off by sitting down on the curb - and the next thing you

  • know, an officer is handing you a ticket!

  • A majority of American cities have bans on sitting down except on provided benches, or

  • lying down in public, mostly to discourage homeless people from loitering.

  • This can nab a tired tourist easily - although the odds are anyone charged will only receive

  • a fine.

  • But how could simply walking your dog get you in trouble?

  • Whether you've got a big friendly pooch or a tiny fluffball, that beloved dog of yours

  • has something in common with your car - it probably needs a license.

  • Most states require a dog license for a simple reason - to keep track of whether the pup

  • is up to date on its rabies vaccinations.

  • Rabies is considered a major public health hazard, and the license has to be renewed

  • every few years.

  • Timelines and cost varies from state to state, but one thing's for sure - if you get caught

  • with an expired license, that'll likely be a hefty fine until it's fixed - and Michigan

  • even threatens ninety days in jail, for the owner, not the dog.

  • But could getting a bite to eat land you in hot water?

  • It's a time crunch, and you've got to get to work - but you're starving!

  • So you pull up to the drive-through, get a box of nuggets, and pop them in your mouth

  • as you drive to the office - and the next thing you know, you're being pulled over

  • by a cop car!

  • Is it actually illegal to eat while driving?

  • Not technically - but more and more states have tough distracted driver laws.

  • If an officer thinks you're driving carelessly in Washington and sees you eating after they

  • pull you over, they can give you an additional ticket.

  • Those were some costly nuggets.

  • Even your cell phone could get you into trouble.

  • That big guy in line bumped into you, and your phone took a header to the floor.

  • It's badly cracked, and it was getting pretty old anyway.

  • You're insured, so it's well past time to get a new phone, which means you can just

  • toss this one in the trash - right?

  • Wrong!

  • States including California, New York, and Illinois have made it illegal to just throw

  • out electronics.

  • This is because the phones have toxic chemicals in them that can leak out when they're crushed,

  • and it could contaminate the landfill.

  • Dumping old electronics can get you a nasty fine, so make sure to check your state's

  • disposal rules.

  • It's even possible to get in trouble for art supplies in some places.

  • Ah, permanent markers.

  • Fun to scribble with as a kid - as long as you stayed away from the walls, and your face.

  • When they say permanent, they're not kidding - they're hard to scrub clean.

  • That's why some cities, including Oklahoma City, have included permanent markers on their

  • list of art supplies like aerosol paint that it's illegal to have in public, and illegal

  • to possess if you're under eighteen.

  • The goal - to prevent graffiti.

  • But when a thirteen-year-old student was arrested for using a permanent marker at school and

  • accidentally staining his desk, many thought the law had gone a bit too far.

  • But even a pen or word processor can land people in serious hot water.

  • Fiction is all about writing about things that didn't happen.

  • Just be careful that any stories don't trend a little too close to reality.

  • When Oklahoma high school student Brian Robertson decided to use a school evacuation manual

  • to create a story about a military attack on his school, he was suspended and arrested

  • for planning an act of violence!

  • The case was eventually thrown out, but it cost him his job and a year of school.

  • But at least he's not in Kentucky - there, writing about a fictional military attack

  • is a felony.

  • You've probably toed the line on this law a few times while on vacation.

  • There's nothing like a hotel stay.

  • You can relax and everything is provided for you.

  • But it can be tempting to take some nice little mementoes of your stay when you go.

  • Just be careful what you stuff in your suitcase.

  • There actually are a few things you can take with you when you go - anything disposable,

  • like those little soaps.

  • Coffee pods are in a grey area, but anything that's meant to be a permanent fixture in

  • the room, like the towels, could get you banned from the hotel and referred to the police

  • if the hotel wants to be bothered.

  • That hasn't stopped people from stealing a hundred million dollars worth of stuff every

  • year.

  • In one state, NOT doing a common chore can land you in jail.

  • The city of Orem, Utah was interested in keeping their town looking beautiful, and that meant

  • green grass.

  • But one woman hadn't watered her lawn in over a year, leaving her house standing out

  • as a patch of beige amid a sea of green.

  • When Betty Perry was cited by a police officer for failing to maintain her lawn, she refused

  • to give her name for the ticket - and so the grandmother and widow was booked into jail.

  • Even the police spokesman was puzzled by the decision and the charges were dropped, but

  • the law stands - keep your lawn green in Oren, or expect to pay some green.

  • And in Wisconsin, be careful when you lose your temper.

  • How often do you curse a day?

  • When you hit that fourth red light in a row, or when your lottery tickets come up empty

  • AGAIN?

  • Maybe your boss changed the project terms for the third time.

  • Just be careful where you are - especially if you're in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

  • A man on a public bus got upset, dropped the F-bomb, and was promptly cited by an undercover

  • cop - who was probably hoping for some bigger crimes than that.

  • He got a $500 ticket for disorderly conduct, and hopefully waited until he was in private

  • to express his reaction.

  • Not even kids are safe from accidentally breaking the law.

  • Remember sneaking around before Christmas looking for your presents?

  • Well, one preteen took that a little too far, opening and taking his Game Boy Advance from

  • his great-grandmother several weeks early.

  • His mother was so angry that she decided to call the police and teach him a lesson - and

  • the police arrested him for petty larceny.

  • He was charged as a juvenile and released, and many people criticized the mother for

  • going that far.

  • But she insisted her son was out of control - and technically, he did steal the Game Boy.

  • Let's hope Santa wasn't watching.

  • But for kids and teenagers, sometimes being outside at all can be trouble.

  • Hundreds of cities and towns around the United States have instituted curfew laws for anyone

  • under eighteen, meaning they have to be accompanied by a parent or guardian to be out after a

  • certain time - ten being the most common hour.

  • This is meant to discourage juvenile delinquency, but it often has unintended consequences.

  • Teens working jobs after school to help their family often find themselves having to race

  • to get home before they accidentally break the law - and a curfew violation can carry

  • a hefty fine.

  • But in one area of Virginia, the most fun night of the year could bring big trouble.

  • After a violent Halloween in 1968 involving rowdy revelers throwing fireworks, the Hampton

  • Roads region of Virginia passed strict laws banning anyone over the age of fourteen from

  • Trick or Treating.

  • It threatened fines or even jail time, until it was amended in 2019 to ensure no teenagers

  • would be eating their candy behind bars.

  • While the town was roasted in the media for their strict rules, they pointed out that

  • no one has ever been arrested for peacefully celebrating Halloween - but Mischief Night

  • lovers should still be careful in the area.

  • It shouldn't be a surprise that one of the biggest ways to break the law without knowing

  • it involves the taxman.

  • Most people pay their taxes through their employers, while those who are self-employed

  • file independently.

  • But what about all your other income?

  • One area that trips people up is online auctions.

  • If you're selling items through eBay or other sites and making money, that counts

  • as income as well - and while it's usually not a big enough sum for the IRS to notice,

  • ignoring it could count as cheating on your taxes.

  • That's something that could come back to haunt you if you're audited by the IRS and

  • they start poring over your documents.

  • But income is income even when it isn't money.

  • It seems like a friendly neighbor swap.

  • You'll build a shed for your neighbor using your carpentry skills, and they'll put their

  • mechanic's license to work and fix that annoying rattle in your car.

  • You both get what you want and no one has to pay...right?

  • Not according to the IRS.

  • This is called bartering, and while it's not technically illegal, the IRS still wants

  • their cut of the money.

  • They expect you to calculate the value of the services you received and declare it on

  • your taxes like you would any other income.

  • It's unlikely this will come up too easily - unless someone at the IRS goes looking or

  • gets a tip.

  • But another neighborly act could get you in trouble soon.

  • Your Netflix account comes with a certain number of profiles, meaning that different

  • people can use it at the same time.

  • This is meant for families, but it's common for people to lend out their passwords to

  • friends so they don't have to pay.

  • It's a nice gesture - and may soon be illegal.

  • In 2016, an appeals court ruled that sharing passwords was a violation of the US Computer

  • Fraud and Abuse Act.

  • While no one has been prosecuted yet, major streaming companies are trying to make it

  • harder to share passwords, claiming it costs them millions a year.

  • It may be time to keep it all in the family.

  • But there are some simple acts that can actually land you in serious trouble.

  • Say your best friend has a nasty headache, and you have some aspirin on your person.

  • You offer them one - a friendly gesture that has gotten students suspended from school

  • for passing drugs.

  • But it's even more serious if you give someone leftover prescription drugs, which is illegal

  • for both the person passing it and the person taking the drugs.

  • Despite this, studies show family and friends are the top source for illegal prescription

  • drugs - and prosecutors have levied hefty charges.

  • Even celebrities aren't safe.

  • Champion race car driver Bobby Unser was used to going fast, but he crashed into the law

  • in 1996 when he and a friend got lost while riding snowmobiles near his New Mexico ranch.

  • A brutal snowstorm made it hard to see, and they nearly died of hypothermia before being

  • found.

  • Unser was then charged with a federal crime - for riding his snowmobile within a National

  • Forest Wilderness Era.

  • While he said he had no way of knowing where he was due to the storm, the government ruled

  • that intent didn't matter.

  • He faced up to six months in prison, although he ultimately only received a fine.

  • But someone else's crime could get you in trouble too.

  • A parent naturally wants to keep their kid out of trouble.

  • So when they find some drugs in the house, they read them the riot act and flush the

  • bag down the toilet right in front of them.

  • Good parenting - and also possibly a federal crime.

  • Concealing evidence of a crime can be considered Obstruction of Justice, which can carry up

  • to twenty years of prison time.

  • That's something a lawyer found out the hard way when he helped a church destroy a

  • computer containing illegal material - only to be charged himself.

  • If the feds can't go after the person who committed the crime, they'll go after the

  • one who stopped them from getting a conviction.

  • When the feds are involved, it's pretty easy to land in hot water.

  • Lying to a federal agent is a crime that can carry up to a year in prison, and most cases

  • involve national security issues.

  • In 2008, a man was convicted for lying to an FBI agent when he denied traveling to Afghanistan.

  • But this law is wide-reaching, and something as simple as telling a park ranger that you

  • cleaned up your picnic table when you left the garbage behind could get you charged with

  • a federal crime if the authorities are in the mood to make an example.

  • So when questioned by federal officials...think carefully.

  • How many of these have you committed?

  • For more on when you might NOT go to prison, check outWhen Is It Legal To Kill?”,

  • or watch this video instead.

Civil rights attorney Harvey Silverglate states that there are so many laws on the books that

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B1 illegal trouble irs crime license permanent

Even More Illegal Things You Didn't Know You Do Everyday

  • 14 2
    Summer posted on 2021/08/21
Video vocabulary