You probably think of yourself as a generally law-abiding citizen. You would never think about robbing a bank or vandalizing a piece of property. But I bet you've probably broken at least one — no, most — of these laws in your lifetime.
What makes it more interesting is that you've probably never heard of these laws before, but they're still on the books. And depending on where you live, you could land in hot water for breaking them. Here are nine laws that you might have broken without even realizing it:
Singing 'Happy Birthday.' We've been singing the "Happy Birthday" song for so long that you don't even think about the person who owns the rights to it. But up until 2015, that was actually the case. The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers actually brought lawsuits in a few cases where the song was sung in what was deemed a "public performance," including one now-famous case in which the organization sued the Girl Scouts for singing "Happy Birthday" around the campfire.
Fortunately, in 2015, a landmark ruling declared that Warner/Chappell Music, the organization that claimed to own the copyright, didn't actually own that copyright and could no longer pursue legal action against those who sang it. However, the ruling didn't put the song in the public domain, either. So it's still entirely possible that some long-lost relative of Patty and Mildred Hill, the two sisters credited with writing the lyrics, could emerge and demand restitution.
Carrying a permanent marker. In what dimension could a love of arts-and-crafts could lead to an arrest? Almost every state in the U.S. has anti-graffiti laws on the books that prohibit carrying a permanent marker in a public space, particularly for minors. Most laws specifically target "broad-tipped indelible markers" and "aerosol spray cans" because of their association with graffiti. Banning the ownership of such paraphernalia gives the police and other authorities the power the dig deeper if they suspect an individual carrying a marker might be up to no good. "It gives the city teeth," said Keith Alber, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge regarding the city's ban on the possession of permanent markers. "Now there is a broader basis for arrests." So if you're a fan of bullet journaling, you'd better leave your supplies at home.
Showing off your American pride. You probably already know that it's illegal to burn the flag, step on the flag, or in any other way disrespect the flag. Did you also know that it's also a no-no to wear it? According to U.S. Code Title 4 Chapter 1 § 8, "the flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery." The code goes on to say that the flag should never be used "for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever" and that it also shouldn't be used on "such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard." (Better re-think that Fourth of July decor.)
Sitting on the sidewalk. Speaking of sitting on the curb, you might get arrested for that, even if you haven't been drinking. In an effort to curb loitering (which is really an effort to criminalize homelessness,) the majority of American cities have statutes on record that make it illegal to sit or lie down in public. Keep walking or find a park bench if you really need to rest.