Crimes That You Can Commit Without Knowing

Did you know that the average American unknowingly breaks at least three federal laws every day and every third American has a police record? Did you also know that there’s a chance that you’ve already broken a law today without realizing? These commonly broken laws don’t include passing the speed limit or theft; they include things that may be seen by many as minor disturbances. Let’s take a look at the laws you may not know you’re breaking. 

1. Noisy Neighbors

Although it is common knowledge, many people choose to forget that being loud, especially at night, is an offense. While each of the 50 states has quiet hours, (most of whom follow the 10 pm to 8 am rule) the time varies across the country. During those hours, the volume of music, movies and even vacuum cleaners should be at a minimum as anything that can be heard by the neighbors is considered illegal… and they have full rights to file complaints. For every day that the noise continues, the complaining neighbor receives $30. The only caveat is that they’ll have to prove that the noise is over a certain decibel. 

2. Permanent Markers

Before the 1970s, permanent markers and even spray cans were kept on shelves in hardware and stationary stores. Today, they are kept in glass cases and it’s all because of anti-graffiti laws. Set under the criminal act of 1971, anti-graffiti laws had to be put in place because of the “artistic expression” that took place in the 1960s. The law, on the other hand, saw it as vandalism and destruction of property. Today, it is illegal to buy permanent markers or have them on private and public property. In 2013, a student was arrested after his teacher reported them for having markers. 

3. Snowball Fights 

Snowball fights are a winter custom especially after a night of freshly fallen snow. Children, teens and even adults spend their snow day making snow angels and participating in snowball fights, but did you know that the latter is illegal? In many states, throwing a snowball with the intention of hitting a person is considered assault and it can land you in jail. In 2010, five men were arrested for throwing snowballs at their friend and then a teen was arrested for throwing one at a police officer.

4. Chewing Gum

So, here’s the problem with this entry, chewing gum isn’t illegal, it’s what you might want to do with it after, that’s illegal. In many states across the US, spitting gum on sidewalks, highways or even the street is punishable by a fine of $2000 or a six-month jail sentence. Even companies like Disney refuse to sell gum on their property. In some places, dropping cigarette butts share the same fate. The moral of the story is to discard your garbage properly. 

5. The Happy Birthday Song

Most people don’t notice that the “Happy Birthday” songs sung at restaurants aren’t the same tune we know and love. And that’s because Summy Company copyrighted the track in 1935. Warner/Chappell Music bought the company in 1988 and with it, the rights to the song. The song, which is valued at $5 million, is the reason why it is rarely featured in films and shows. Not only will they need to have permission, but most companies ask to be paid royalties which adds up because of the song’s popularity. 

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