New Laws: Are you Breaking Them?

by ShelbyW on February 12, 2013

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(US law and generally) Thousands upon thousands of new laws are passed every year throughout the United States. Most people believe that they avoid breaking any of these laws on any given day. Author Harvey Silverglate, however, claimed that the average American professional commits at least three felonies per day. This seems like an insane assertion, but once a person looks at the various laws that do exist, it becomes quite clear than many of us violate laws every single day.

For instance, according to the website of Bill Powers, partner at Powers McCartan, PLLC, “North Carolina traffic laws describe reckless driving as willfully disregarding the safety of others while operating a motor vehicle.” However, since this definition is subjective and may be up to the discretion of each law enforcement official, it is important to realize that if you are convicted, you could actually spend time in jail.

Examples of Honest Citizens breaking the Law

The majority of people are comfortable in the fact that they’ve been law abiding citizens during their daily routine. Unfortunately, many of the following people also felt safe in this knowledge, and they found out the hard way that some laws are excessively far outside of the realm of common knowledge.

Patriotism gone Wild

Sami Omar al-Hussayen provided webmaster services to a Muslim charitable organization website. Unfortunately for him, certain links on his website connected to other websites that connected to still other websites and eventually led to websites with anti-American comments posted. Al-Hussayen was indicted under the U.S Patriot Act for this obvious accident, but fortunately for him, a jury ended up acquitting him of any charges.

Snowballed by the Government

Bobby Unser was snowmobiling with a friend near his ranch in 1996. Unfortunately during their little excursion, blizzard conditions picked up and caused them to stray off path. They eventually ended up abandoning their non-working snowmobiles and spending two nights outdoors in a blizzard.

The men were eventually found, but Unser was charged with a provision of the Wilderness Act that prevented snowmobiles from being in certain areas. It was explained to the court that Unser and his friend had only been in that area because they had become lost during the blizzard, but the court said intent wasn’t necessary when it came to laws involving public welfare.

Playing by the Rules

Due to the numerous new laws passed every year, it’s smart for Americans to understand new statutes and ensure that they’re not violating any laws. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, for instance, makes any “unauthorized access” to websites, networks or other sites connected to the Internet a crime. Few people realize, however, that simply filling out a fake name when signing up for an online account is considered “unauthorized access”.

There are even laws that make the act of writing “disturbing fiction” a criminal act. Illinois law treats the writing of reprehensible material as disorderly conduct. This law can even apply if a person never intended anyone else to read their material. An Oklahoma student was even suspended from school and charged with planning an act of violence after writing a fictional story about commandos infiltrating and attacking his school.

Some may understand how falsifying information on Internet websites and writing material that could be misconstrued as violence could lead to criminal charges, but many find it hard to fathom why buying permanent markers for individuals under 18 years old could be a crime. Broad tipped markers are actually considered tools for graffiti in some areas. Knowing this, and any of the aforementioned possible crimes, should make it quite obvious that it’s important to know local legal statutes or at least have a good attorney on hand.

The amount and range of laws that are passed on local, state and even federal levels every year is simply astonishing. With so many laws on the books, it’s not surprising that the typical American could commit various crimes during the day without ever even realizing it. This makes it important for everyone to fully understand the law and to be prepared in the sometimes likely event that unfair charges are levied against them.

Legal Researcher Shelby Warden writes articles to raise awareness for our communities. At Powers McCartan, PLLC, their criminal defense team is led by attorney Bill Powers, who is board-certified as a criminal law specialist by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Their firm aggressively defends clients on all types of criminal charges in courts throughout the state of North Carolina.

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