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Top 10 Crazy Things You Thought Were Illegal, But Aren't

VO: Rebecca Brayton

Script written by Sean Newman.

There are things that are against the law, things that should be against the law, and things that aren’t illegal but frowned upon. Counting cards, owning a flamethrower and sitting in the back of a moving pickup truck? These are examples of things that should be laws, but are actually legal. WatchMojo counts down ten things you probably thought were against the law, but aren’t.

Special thanks to our users Philip Folta and Moses for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top%20Ten%20Things%20You%20Thought%20Were%20Illegal%20But%20Are%20Not


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Script written by Sean Newman.

Top 10 Crazy Things You Thought Were Illegal, But Aren’t

It may be frowned upon, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Things We Thought Were Illegal but Aren’t.

For this list, we’ll be looking at different acts that we assumed were not legal, but lo and behold, they can in fact be done by a law-abiding citizen - in many places at least. Note that these things can’t be 100% confirmed for everyone everywhere around the world, so for the sake of consistency, we’ve decided to base our entries off of laws in the United States. If you’re from outside the USA, consult local laws before indulging in any of these activities.

#10: Sitting in the Back of a Moving Pickup Truck

Moving violation tickets can be pricey and troublesome, so caution is advisable. But believe it or not, there’s no blanket federal rule against traveling in a truck bed. It’s 100% legal in about 20 states, since they don’t have any laws addressing the issue, while 30 others have age restrictions between 16-19. The remaining states, and the District of Columbia, have requirements based on number of passengers and trip length. So in the absence of clear-cut regulations, if you’re an adult, the cab is full, and the driver isn’t hitting interstate speeds you’re likely in the clear. As a bonus, driving barefoot is also legal regardless of what state you’re in.

#9: Counting Cards

The house always wins, but one tried and true strategy rejects this phenomenon. Used in Blackjack, card counting is a matter of using statistics to obtain an advantage that’s practically guaranteed to pay dividends over time. Perhaps it’s the portrayal of card counting in film, or its association with other swindling techniques like loaded dice, that lead people to assume its illegality, but take a course and go clean out Vegas; law enforcement’s not gonna stop you. Casinos may have their own ways of preventing this sort of activity though, so just tip your dealer well to keep things moving.

#8: Owning a Flamethrower

On the one hand, if you have a match and an aerosol can, you technically have a working flamethrower – not that we’re trying to give you any ideas. On the other hand, it’s a frickin’ flamethrower. So there you have it, the United States has no specific ban on flamethrowers, and it’s left up to the states to decide whether these fiery weapons of destruction serve a need for the average citizen or not. California has the strictest regulation on flamethrowers for the time being, with a simple misdemeanor slapped on your record if you’re caught using one.

#7: Purchasing and Operating Lock Picks

While certain lock picking tools are completely legal, someone who owns any at all is likely to be on your radar for potential future problems. So you’re probably thinking Johnny Law would be at odds with amateur lock-pickery, but it just isn’t so - at least not across the board. California requires proper paperwork in the form of a locksmithing license, yet a handful of states only ask that you don’t use your lock pick for shady purposes if you own one. But beyond that, you’re aces!

#6: Not Obeying Stop Signs on Private Property

In most states, stop signs have the law to back them up on public streets and highways. However, if you’re looking for cheap thrills without potential legal implications, run a stop sign next time you’re in a mall or school parking lot – not that we’re encouraging or condoning that kind of thing! Keep in mind that if you get into a wreck, your insurance company will probably find a way to use this against you. So, basically, the only useful reason to even know about this alleged loophole is the 2-3 seconds you’ll save in the parking lot by keeping your foot off the brake.

#5: Using a Radar Detector

One of the easiest ways to avoid a speeding ticket is to not speed, but failing that, the next best option is to not get caught. Regardless of what you drive, you’ll never be faster than a radar gun, so having a device to warn you about the upcoming speed trap seems ingenious. Fortunately, for non-commercial drivers and private vehicle owners anywhere other than Virginia and the District of Columbia, it’s totally legal to have a radar detector. Where the confusion lies is that radar jammers are typically illegal under federal law, but those are a totally different animal altogether.

#4: Corporal Punishment in Schools

As of 2015, in 19 states teachers could use physical punishments against their students – mainly in the South and Midwest regions of the US. And there’s actually a 1977 Supreme Court case used as precedent. In Ingraham v. Wright, it was argued that corporal punishment does not violate due process nor does it constitute cruel and unusual punishment. In recent years, the states of Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, and Georgia have laid claim to over two-thirds of reported physical punishments. So while many states have banned the practice, they’re actually not explicitly forbidden in all of them.

#3: Topless Women

Hashtag #FreeTheNipple, amiright? Turns out it’s freer than anyone thought… despite what YouTube and Social Media regulations may suggest. More than half of states have explicit laws pertaining to the legality of toplessness. And, strangely, political opposites California and Texas see eye-to-eye for a change. Conversely, very few states have explicit laws against toplessness. Plus, variables like political leanings and weather don’t necessarily predict a state’s ruling. Instead… research is required to know with certainty if your state is ok with letting the twins out, so be careful.

#2: Cannibalism

Aside from less taboo examples of legal cannibalism, like the consumption of a mother’s placenta, cannibalism is largely associated with some tribal rituals and notorious serial killers. However it’s not as illegal as you may think. In most cases, the consumption of another human being would involve harm, or at least the unlawful desecration of the victim. 1884’s R v Dudley and Stephens is often cited as the exception, in a case where a group of marooned shipmates murdered the weakest member and used him for sustenance. Two men were charged with murder, and sentenced to death – though they ultimately only served jail time – with the third going unpunished despite admitting to cannibalism.

Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Eating Horse Meat
- Owning a Tank
- Cursing at Cops [aka Contempt of Cop]

#1: Bestiality

That’s right, the highly taboo act of engaging in sexual intercourse with an animal is not illegal under Federal Law in the United States. Thankfully, most states have taken it upon themselves to slap at least a misdemeanor on this crime, but a few remain quite laissez-faire today. If you live in Hawaii, Kentucky, Nevada, New Mexico, Vermont, Texas, West Virginia or Wyoming, there’s no law that explicitly says you can’t go to town with the farm animals. It may be interesting to some that many more states have banned the practice after the turn of the 21st century… so at least there’s that.

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