Miscellaneous Interesting Laws in the U.S.

Here’s a bunch of miscellaneous laws in the United States that you may find interesting. At some point we will probably create new pages to put these in, but for now, enjoy the assortment!

1. Is it illegal to destroy or deface money?

Yes. It is a crime to “mutilate, cut, deface, disfigure, perforate, unite or cement together” or do anything else to any type of paper money with the intent to make it unfit to be reissued. The penalty is either a fine or up to 6 months in jail.118 USC 333

2. Is it illegal to read someone else’s mail?

Yes, intentionally opening someone else’s mail without their permission is a federal crime, which could subject you to a fine and/or up to 5 years in prison.218 USC 1702

3. Is it illegal to throw out or destroy someone else’s mail?

Yes. If you “obstruct” the delivery of mail, such as by throwing away or destroying a piece of mail that was wrongly delivered to you, this is a federal crime and you could be subject to a fine or up to 6 months in prison.318 USC 1701

4. Is it illegal to donate food to a non-profit (or could I be sued for it)?

NO! In fact, laws protect you from liability if you donate food to a non-profit and it later causes harm to someone who handles or eats it, as long as you did not intend to do any harm.4Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act

5. Is it illegal to import elephant parts into the U.S.?

Update March 2018: The Trump administration now says it will allow importation of African sport-hunted elephant trophies (as well as trophies of lions and certain antelopes) on a case-by-case basis.

See more at our Guide to Environmental Laws.

6. Is sports betting legal in the U.S.?

As of May 2018, sports betting is legal only in Nevada. But it will soon become legal in New Jersey, and possibly other states as well.

Previously, the federal government had banned sports betting throughout the country, except for Nevada. But the U.S. Supreme Court recently struck down the federal ban, allowing states to legalize sports betting if they choose.5The Supreme Court’s decision was based on the 10th amendment, which has been interpreted to mean that the federal government cannot require states to use their own resources to enforce federal law

7. Is it illegal to leave a child unattended in a car?

As of April 2018, in 19 states it is illegal to leave a child alone in a vehicle. See KidsandCars.org for more.


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