RD.COM Knowledge Facts
Lauren CahnUpdated: May 23, 2023
It may come as a surprise, but all of these things are legal in the U.S., at least in some parts.
How do you know what’s illegal and what’s not?
Even the most law-abiding citizen doesn’t know all the laws out there by heart, so most people use common sense when it comes to determining what’s legal and what’s not. That’s why you will be surprised to find out these 18 things that sound like they would definitely be illegal are actually not. Also, check out these weird laws that you probably break all the time.
Having a monkey for a pet
Ross had one on Friends, so maybe you thought you too could keep a monkey as a pet. The thing about Friends, though—it’s fictional. In real life, you can’t have a pet monkey anywhere in New York, Alaska, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Utah, and Vermont. That said, good news for wanna-be monkey parents: It’s legal in all the 38 other states. In fact, in Oregon, you can have a monkey as a service animal, should your needs require it. Make sure you learn about the other 8 animals that are actually illegal to keep as a pet.
Owning other exotic animals
While we definitely don’t think it’s okay to keep a wild animal as a domesticated pet, it’s not as illegal as you might assume in some states. Think you can’t have a bear for a pet? You’re wrong if you live in Massachusetts, where you can legally purchase your very own living, breathing, mauling teddy. Want a pet giraffe? You can have one in Florida. Pet tiger? You can have one in Delaware, as long as you obtain a license. Pet cheetah? Pet lion? Oklahoma is fine with both! Here are some more surprising pet laws.
Fat-free chips made with Olestra
Back in the 1990s, Proctor & Gamble came out with a fat substitute called Olestra (also known as Olean), and for a while, people ate it up in products like WOW potato chips by Frito Lay. It fell out of favor once people started realizing that trips to the bathroom seemed to happen…. very soon after ingesting these fat-free treats, often accompanied by some cramping. For a while, the FDA required warning labels on Olestra-containing foods, but not since 2003. Despite the fact that it also negates the body’s ability to absorb essential vitamins, Olestra is still fully legal in the U.S., which is why you should always read packaging. However, it is banned in Canada and all the countries in the European Union. Here aremore bizarre things that are banned in other countries.
Foods containing arsenic
Arsenic is one of the World Health Organization’s top ten chemicals of “major health concern.” “Long-term exposure to high levels of arsenic is associated with higher rates of skin, bladder, and lung cancers, as well as heart disease,” reports the FDA. The FDA has released statements about the presence of arsenic in rice, apples, and all organic fruits. But unlike the countries of the European Union, the U.S. has no ban on arsenic in our food.
A baby walker is a seemingly adorable wheeled device that allows an infant to “stand upright” and “walk” by fluttering their tiny feet on the floor like Fred Flintstone. But medical experts have found that they impair baby’s mental and physical development, giving them mobility beyond their age-appropriate capabilities, and preventing them for learning essential skills (and developing essential muscles along the way) like crawling, pulling themselves upright, and eventually walking. They have also proven to be dangerous and even fatal, since they can help a baby go to places they shouldn’t, like the top of a staircase. Baby walkers are banned in Canada, but they’re legal here in United States pretty much across the board. Baby walkers might be legal, but there are some baby names that are definitely not.
Spanking in school
Any kind of physical force used as a means of discipline (slapping, spanking, paddling, etc.) is known legally as “corporal punishment.” If you were never spanked in school, perhaps it’s because you grew up in New Jersey, where corporal punishment in schools has been illegal since 1867. However, corporal punishment is permitted in the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming.
Spanking at home
Spanking in school is legal in many states, butspanking at home is legal in all states. So is kicking, slapping, and whipping, as long as it’s considered “reasonable discipline” by a parent or caretaker. What is reasonable discipline? That’s determined by case law, so if you’re accused of “child abuse” when you thought you were engaging in “reasonable discipline,” your local judge will get to decide what’s reasonable and what isn’t. Here are some new laws that could affect your life.
Marrying your cousin
Although some view it with a negative stigma, the fact is you can marry your cousin in every state in the United States. The only issue is which cousin. At least 25 states go so far as to allow you to marry your first cousin, which is your aunt/uncle’s kid. That being said, some states in which marriage between first cousins is permitted only permit it under certain circumstances (as in Arizona, where the couple must be over 65 years of age or in West Virginia, where only adopted first cousins are allowed to wed). Check out these13 marriage laws you might be breaking right now.
In most states, it’s perfectly legal to bury your loved ones right in your backyard. Just be sure to pay attention to zoning laws (for example, laws which say how close to a body of water a burial may take place), and it’s always a good idea to consult a specialist. These bizarre things have been banned around the world.
Drinking booze…even if you’re under-age
The minimum age for legally drinking alcohol is 21 in all 50 states, but there are loopholes in all but five (those are Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, New Hampshire, and West Virginia). For instance, there are:
- 29 states where minors can drink legally on private property with parental presence and consent
- 6 states where minors can drink on private property without parental presence and consent
- 25 states where minors can drink for religious reasons
- 16 states where minors can drink for medical reasons
- 11 states where minors can drink for educational purposes (think: culinary school)
Removing that mattress tag
Bought a mattress? Go ahead, and remove that mattress tag. It’s not illegal. The tag is there for commerce purposes. Its removal is illegal only before purchase by the consumer.
If you want to get behind the wheel of your car buck naked, that’s your prerogative. It’s totally legal. There is one hitch, however; getting in and out of the car could cause you legal problems. If someone sees you (and complains), you could be prosecuted for public lewdness.
Sleeping in your car
In at least 14 states, it’s perfectly legal to sleep in your car at a rest stop (you’d think it would be more, right?). But it’s not really illegal to sleep in your car anywhere, unless your car is parked illegally or if you’re too drunk to be driving (if your blood alcohol content is above the legal limit, you should not be in your car at all). Here are some of the most confusing driving rules explained.
Driving while drowsy
One-third of all motor vehicle accidents are caused by over-tired drivers. However, it’s not illegal to drive a car while drowsy except in New Jersey and Arkansas. And most states that have attempted to put such a law on the books have failed thus far. Some far sillier laws persist, however: This is the dumbest law in every state.
Performing surgery without a good night’s sleep
One would hope a surgeon had a good night’s sleep before opening anyone up on an operating table. Unfortunately, despite widespread knowledge of how sleep deprivation impairs cognitive performance and motor skills, there’s no law that says a surgeon must have had a good night’s sleep or even any opportunity to sleep before performing surgery.
Recording a conversation
In one-party consent states, such as New York, you can legally record a conversation with someone who has no idea you’re recording the conversation. For the most part, all states are one-party consent states, except forthese 10:California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington. Connecticut and Nevada are “mixed” consent states, where the consent laws vary by situation. You won’t believe these25 bizarre international laws you’d never guess were real.
Marrying your step-sibling
It may seem like a taboo, and certainly society tends to frown upon step-sibling relationships, the fact remains if you want to marry your stepbrother or stepsister, there is no U.S. law prohibiting it.
In most U.S. states, it is just as legal for a woman to go topless as it is for a man. Notable exceptions include Indiana, Tennessee, and Utah. Some local laws ban female breast-baring, and police officers in some municipalities will arrest topless women for “disorderly conduct,” however such laws and such arrests are not likely to stand judicial/constitutional scrutiny. Next, check out these 50 things you won’t believe are banned in the U.S.
- FindLaw.com: “Exotic Animal Laws by State”
- Time: “50 Worst Inventions: Olestra”
- FDA.gov: “Arsenic in Food and Dietary Supplements”
- The New York Times: “The Dangers of Baby Walkers”
- FindLaw.com: “Details on State Corporal Punishment in Public School Laws”
- The Washington Post: “19 States Still Allow Corporal Punishment in School”
- TheSpruce.com: “What Are the Cousin Marriage Laws in Your State?”
- FindLaw.com: “Legal for Kids to Drink Alcohol With Parents?”
- Funerals360.com: “Your Guide to Home Burials”
- FindLaw.com: “Is it Illegal to Remove Mattress, Pillow Tags?”
- Avvo.com: “Is it Illegal to be Naked While Driving Your Car?”
- Frugal-RV-Travel.com: “Overnight Parking at Rest Stops”
- NCSL: “Summary of Current Drowsy Driving Laws”
- NCBI: “Should Sleep-Deprived Surgeons Be Prohibited From Operating Without Patients’ Consent?”
- Digital Media Law Project: “New York Recording Law”
- MWL-Law.com: “Laws on Recording Conversations in All 50 States”
- FindaFamilyAttorney.com: “Is it illegal for step-siblings to marry?”
- Time: “Here’s Where It’s Legal for Women to Go Topless in the U.S.”
Originally Published: January 28, 2021
Lauren Cahn is a New York–based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest and in a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction, and her first full-length manuscript, "The Trust Game," was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.
What are some things that are legal that you personally think should be illegal? ›
- Unnecessarily Bright Dipped Headlights. ...
- Hiding Ingredients in Food. ...
- Convenience Fees to Pay Bills and Do Taxes. ...
- Child Beauty Pageants. ...
- Advertising Prescription Drugs. ...
- Siren and Horn Sounds On the Radio. ...
- Subscription to an Email List Without a Previous Email Confirmation.
- You can't wash your neighbour's car without permission in Los Angeles.
- It's illegal to drive while your dog is tethered to your car in Alaska.
- You can't drive a car in reverse in public roads in Arizona.
- You're not allowed to drive a black car on a Sunday in Denver, Colorado.
The term illegal means any action which is against or not authorized by the law or statute. Also called illicit or unlawful. It can refer to an action that is in violation of criminal law, like assault, arson, or murder.Is searching for illegal things illegal? ›
Remember, anything that is illegal offline is illegal online, as well. If you search for something illegal, you may attract the attention of law enforcement. Your Google searches can be used against you if you are charged with a crime.What is illegal but not a crime? ›
For example, driving past the speed limit is an illegal activity, but it is not a criminal activity. On the other hand, committing a homicide is both a criminal activity and an illegal activity. So, to sum up, illegal activities are all those activities that are punishable by law in a certain way.What are examples of illegal? ›
- a campaign to stop the illegal sale of cigarettes to children under 16.
- It is illegal to drive a car that is not registered and insured.
- Cocaine, LSD, and heroin are all illegal drugs/substances.
No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title ...What is surprisingly illegal? ›
California takes frog rights seriously. According to state law, a person is allowed to possess any number of live frogs for frog-jumping contests, but if a frog dies or is killed, "it must be destroyed as soon as possible, and may not be eaten or otherwise used for any purpose."What is illegal but morally right? ›
Answer and Explanation: Illegal actions undertaken with a sense of being morally right are typically defined as renegade actions.What things are illegal to say? ›
Categories of speech that are given lesser or no protection by the First Amendment (and therefore may be restricted) include obscenity, fraud, child pornography, speech integral to illegal conduct, speech that incites imminent lawless action, speech that violates intellectual property law, true threats, and commercial ...
Is having an OnlyFans illegal? ›
OnlyFans requires users to be at least 18 years old, and permitted by the laws of where they are located to join the platform and view content on it.Can police see incognito? ›
When you use “incognito” or “in private” modes you are only preventing the recording of your searches on your own computer. Your provider still knows where you have been. A search warrant or subpoena can get those records. It's kind of like falsifying your caller ID.Does the FBI monitor Google searches? ›
The FBI's monitoring of Google searches is part of the agency's larger effort to track potential threats. The FBI has access to a variety of data, including search engine data. The agency uses this data to try to identify potential threats and to investigate potential crimes.What are not serious crimes? ›
Crimes that are considered less serious than felonies are misdemeanors. A misdemeanor is typically punishable by less than one year in a county jail. Like felonies, misdemeanors can be violent or non-violent in nature. This type of crime usually involves minor offenses that cause minor damage.Is it illegal to lie about your age? ›
It is not illegal to lie about your birth date or provide false information on an online dating app like Tinder or eHarmony. However, in misrepresenting your age, you will have violated the Terms of Service of those respective apps.Is it illegal to screenshot messages? ›
For example, if you shared a screenshot of someone's private messages or emails and shared them without the person's consent, you would be violating their privacy. Fraudsters may use screenshots to steal someone's identity by taking a picture of their driver's license or passport.Is it illegal to be homeless in America? ›
From a Legislative Perspective, it is Illegal to be Homeless in Virtually Every State in the USA, Except for Two – Oregon and Wyoming. This data comes courtesy of an investigative report first published by the National Homeless Law Center in 2019 and updated again in 2021.What does illegal mean for kids? ›
: not according to or authorized by law : unlawful, illicit. also : not sanctioned by official rules (as of a game)What are illegal materials? ›
Illegal Material: Material which would subject the producer or supplier to civil or criminal prosecution under any applicable local, state, or federal law for production or presentation of obscene or erotic material, slander or libel, invasion of privacy.What are 10 things states Cannot do? ›
No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title ...
What are 5 laws in the US? ›
- Immigration law.
- Bankruptcy law.
- Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) laws.
- Federal anti-discrimination and civil rights laws that protect against racial, age, gender and disability discrimination.
- Patent and copyright laws.
Imagine it, a world without government and laws, would the we be better off? Or would we be faced with utter chaos? Well, located in the Sonoran Desert in California, is America's only law-free area; Slab City.What laws affect daily life? ›
- Driving on the right-hand side of the road.
- Having your driver's license, registration, and insurance card easily accessible.
- Wearing your seatbelt.
- Abiding by proper car seat requirements when traveling with children.
- Obeying all traffic laws and signals.
Common law is based on all previous legal rulings made by judges in a common law court. Examples of such rulings are common law requirements for people to read contracts, doctor-patient confidentiality, copyright, and common law marriage.What are the 4 main laws? ›
The four primary sources are constitutions, statutes, cases, and regulations. These laws and rules are issued by official bodies from the three branches of government.Is it illegal to rip money? ›
Yes, destroying money is illegal in the United States. Money is a part of the national currency and gest protected by law. Anyone destroying money can face legal consequences. This includes tearing up bills or writing on them.What are immoral things that are illegal? ›
Cheating on your spouse. Breaking a promise to a friend. Using abortion as a birth control measure. People can not be arrested or punished with imprisonment or fines for doing these things.What crimes are morally wrong? ›
Finally, there are activities that society generally considers morally wrong and are also criminal law violations (represented as “C”). These acts include behaviors such as murder, sexual assault, and robbery. A significant portion of criminal laws is also immoral.What is unethical but not illegal? ›
Being unethical does not always mean remaining illegal as well. For example, if a person lies about work or a project from some other person in the workplace, it is considered unethical. Still, it is not illegal to hide some information from an individual.What are some really silly laws? ›
In Wisconsin it is illegal to serve butter substitutes in prison; in Utah it is illegal NOT to drink milk; and in South Dakota don't sleep in a cheese factory. A generous act in Louisiana could backfire—you can be fined $500 for sending a pizza order to someone's house without his or her knowledge.
Can you screenshot on OnlyFans? ›
Screenshot OnlyFans with Hotkeys
On Mac, visit the content you want to take a screenshot of and press "Command + Shift + 3". On Android and iPhone, go to the window to be captured and open the drop-down menu and select the screenshot option.
After the initial launch of Onlyfans, this service earned 1000 users in just 20 days. Out of 100 million users, today 87 million are male users whereas 10 million are female users.Which country banned OnlyFans? ›
OnlyFans is known to be blocked in several countries, including Dubai, Russia, India, and Belarus. So, if you want to use OnlyFans from these locations, you'll need to use a VPN to connect to a server in a location where OnlyFans is legal, such as the UK, or the US.Can police see your deleted search history? ›
Can police recover deleted internet history? Yes, simply by contacting your internet service provider. They are obligated by law to store records of your online activity. The only exception is that your provider could have already deleted the data if the history is older than the data retention period.Is deleting search history a crime? ›
But deleting digital data—including clearing browser history—can result in federal felony obstruction of justice charges under 18 U.S.C. § 1519, the federal anti-shredding statute, which carries a 20-year maximum penalty.Are Google searches illegal? ›
Despite the awkward nature of most people's search histories, the majority of searches are perfectly legal. People are searching for information and even if that information is unusual or related to something criminal, the search itself is not a crime.Can the FBI track your phone? ›
A warrant is required to track a phone through the cell networks or install a GPS tracking device on a car, the Supreme Court has ruled. To obtain such a warrant, police need to show probable cause of a crime.Can the FBI look at your Internet history? ›
All law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, use the information gathered from computer's internet browsing history, to help them investigate and ultimately resolve criminal cases. It's a very valuable information source, and just one of the many sophisticated tools they use.Can the FBI see my camera? ›
Chances are you are not important enough to be eavesdropped on. But, if you are engaged in criminal activity and the FBI is legally investigating you, they can definitely look through your computer camera. What can FBI agents do that regular police officers can't?What are things that are moral but illegal? ›
There are very many morally impermissible acts that are also illegal (for example murder, rape, theft, etc.) and many thinkers would argue that the moral impermissibility of such behavior is what causes legal bodies to make such acts illegal.
What are examples of illegal but ethical? ›
Ethical, but Illegal
A common example of this is “whistleblowing,” or an individual's disclosure of dishonest, corrupt or illegal activity. While it may be ethical to denounce such activity, doing so may violate organizational policies and thus be considered illegal.
- Copyright Infringement.
- Software Piracy.
- Sound Recording Piracy.
- Child Pornography.
- Distribution of Pornography to Minors.
- Scams and pyramid schemes.
- Federal Computer Security Violations.
The rules: help your family, help your group, return favours, be brave, defer to superiors, divide resources fairly, and respect others' property, were found in a survey of 60 cultures from all around the world.What are moral and immoral things? ›
Morals are the principles we follow that help us know the difference between right and wrong. When someone is immoral, they make decisions that purposely violate a moral agreement. Immoral is sometimes confused with amoral, which describes someone who has no morals and doesn't know what right or wrong means.What is the #1 rule of law? ›
Rule of law is a principle under which all persons, institutions, and entities are accountable to laws that are: Publicly promulgated. Equally enforced. Independently adjudicated.What is legal but unethical? ›
Answer and Explanation: An example of something that is legal but unethical is paying employees minimum wage without any increase over time, which leads to them struggling to manage their living expenses. An example of something illegal but ethical is driving over the speed limit.What is both unethical and illegal? ›
In countries that have a unique and very conservative culture, the ethics of behavior is comparatively stricter. However, if we take an action such as hiding your income from tax men and not filing your return, this is both illegal and unethical.What is illegal and unethical? ›
'Unethical' defines as something that is morally wrong, whilst something being 'illegal' means it is against the law. In an illegal act, the decision-making factor is the law. For an unethical act, the deciding agent is the man's own conscience. An unethical deed may be against morality but not against the law.What is the illegal activity? ›
Some common examples of unethical or illegal activity include: Conflicts of interest. Accounting or auditing irregularities. Theft. Fraud, waste, or abuse.What is a bad or an illegal action? ›
Misconduct is any kind of bad, unethical, or illegal activity.
What is doing something illegal? ›
Something illegal is against the law or breaks the rules. If you're reading this in jail, you've probably done something illegal, and if you're not in jail, there's plenty of time to obey the law. You can use the adjective illegal to describe breaking the rules, as when you head-butt someone in a game.