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Lawyers Share What They Can't Believe Is Legal Or Illegal

Someone on AskReddit asked for lawyers to share their biggest surprises when it came to what was legal/illegal, upon going through law school and learning the ins and outs of the justice system. Some of these are the very definition of outdated, and it's a true wonder the laws are still standing. While others are just a little bit silly. Like, in France it's illegal to name a pig "Napoleon." 

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  • 1
    Text - barby9 16h In Canada, it is illegal to frighten the Queen
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  • 2
    Text - Thisls JezebellnHell 13h I'm a paralegal, not a lawyer, but when I was in school I was shocked to learn that my state's legal definition of "mayhem" wasn't making public scene or causing damage, but rather cutting off a body part (or rendering it useless), putting out an eye, cutting out the tongue, or slitting the nose, ears, or lip of another person. Allstate commercials had me thinking that it just kind of a chaos.
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  • 3
    Text - codece 16h Private discrimination. Totally legal to have a "whites only" country club in the US.
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  • 4
    Text - DoctorSalt 14h Not a lawyer but I was very happy when I realized an illegal operation on windows 95 had no legal bearing to my 11 year old self
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  • 5
    Text - GoDownSunshine 13h You can't boobytrap your own property.
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  • 6
    Text - just-a-phase 15h Adverse possession of real estate. You literally just start using someone's property and if you do it openly, and meet a few other criteria, it becomes yours
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  • 7
    Text - titanicusgardens 16h I am most surprised at people's misperceptions about their private right to violence. Most places in the U.S., many people think there are lots of situations where they could harm someone with impunity. In reality, there are very few situations in which using violence is legal. Even in some situations where using violence is necessary, proving it in court (civilly or criminally) can ruin you. Violence should be your last resort.
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  • 8
    Text - Orange_Kid 3h When I clerked for a judge, there would be some continuing education-type events for judges at the courthouse where they'd learn various developments in law. At one of them, some of the judges were surprised to learn that you can be charged with "possession of an open container of alcohol" for a container that is closed but has been unsealed. "So if I have a half-full bottle of wine, I can't cork it and walk down the street to bring it to a friends house for dinner?" The pre
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  • 9
    Text - thebaldfrenchman 14h It is still legal in VA to brandish a weapon around homosexual, if you feel that individual is making a sexual advance. Got mugged in Richmond, this was the guy's defence.
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  • 10
    Text - TheFlameKeeperXBONE 16h Wasn't a student, but I learned that it is actually illegal to mispronounce Arkansas, in Arkansas.
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  • 11
    Text - Andramalot 11h In France it's illegal to name a pig "Napoleon". Well, okay then
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  • 12
    Text - acarberry98 1lh There's laws in place in Ireland that require you to give half your assets to your marital partner with no exception (100% of the estate if there are no kids), and the only way to remove your marital partner from your will is to have them sign a consent form to not be part of the will.
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  • 13
    Text - wanderphile 2h Excellent answers so far, but a fun case that comes to mind is Stambovsky v. Ackley, which famously determined that a house in NY "haunted" as a matter of law in an action for rescission of contract and fraudulent misrepresentation. So, there are some states where you are legally obligated to disclose whether the house you're selling has a reputation for being haunted.
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  • 14
    Text - ghitzabomba. 4h Children's rights in regards to their property. If you parents bought you something, and gave it to you, it's yours. It is not theirs to take away, and if they do, that is considered theft, and can be tried for it.
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  • 15
    Text - ithilneth 17h I'm not studying law and will never be but when I learned that you can turn on the light in the car while driving WITHOUT BEING ARRESTED I had the feeling that my whole life was a lie.
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  • 16
    Text - BazzatheBoganBarista 8h In Australia it is illegal to register a company name which suggests a connection with Sir Donald Bradman (the cricketer). Rule 6203(e)(iv) of the Corporations Regulations 2001 (Cth) is to thank for that.
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  • 17
    Text - scarface2cz 12h in czech republic, preparing tax fraud was legal till 2 years ago. and preparing to fraud EU subsidies is legal to this day.
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