Legal Mischief - FindLaw Blotter
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Independence Day weekend is upon us, which means aspiring pyrotechnicians will be hunting for the most colorful weapons-grade explosives with which to amaze and deafen their neighbors and children come the Fourth of July. And let's be honest, not all the sources for those amateur rocket shows are -- how should we put it? -- legit.

So what happens if you get caught with illegal fireworks? Here's a look at the possible penalties:

Tips for Avoiding Arrest When Dating a Drug Dealer

Love is hard to find and all the gurus tell you to keep an open mind -- don't decide who is right for you just based on what they do. So now you are dating a drug dealer and the dates are nice but you have some questions about what this means for your life. Will you go to jail for just hanging around with this person?

It is very hard to say what will happen to you when you date a drug dealer without more context. Is your true love selling heroin or weed? Are transactions happening around you or is it totally separate from your existence? How high-end (pun intended) is this dealer's business? No one can guess what the consequences for dating a drug dealer will be in your case specifically, but here are some things to keep in mind.

Is It a Crime to Impersonate a Lawyer?

You're not a lawyer and you don't even play one on TV, but sometimes you pretend to be one to get things done. Is impersonating a lawyer a crime?

Yes, most likely, although context is everything. You won't end up in jail if you strongly insinuate that you are an attorney to influence a store clerk to serve you (and it's unlikely to help anyway considering how little people care for lawyers). But if you actually practice law without a license and misrepresent yourself to clients, you face criminal and civil liability.

New Mexico Mom Convicted for Facebook Post Sparking Panic

If you are active on social media maybe you've developed a habit of just posting whatever pops into your head, or revealing the latest rumor you read. Don't do that. You could end up in front of a judge, charged, convicted, and with a criminal record, like a mother in New Mexico.

Jeanette Garza Alvarez posted on Facebook a few weeks back, according to Good Housekeeping. The problem with her post is that it was based on a rumor her 8th grade son told her that there would be a shootout at school, sparking a panic among parents and school administrators. The appropriate response would have been to call police and the school and let them know about the rumors, not change her status on social media.

Real Handgun 'Nintendo Duck Hunt Zapper' Is a Safety Threat

Adults know a gun is not a toy but when a Texas custom gun maker modified a Glock to look like a classic video game weapon this month, many critics worried kids would not. The "Nintendo Glock" caused such an uproar that Precision Syndicate was forced to clarify that it was not going to mass produce the firearm made to look like Nintendo's Duck Hunt Zapper.

Most of the negative comments about the gun came from people concerned about children being confused by the guns and police safety and responses as the line between toys and deadly weapons grows finer. But there will be only one such gun made by Precision Syndicate, says the company.

Yes, the First Amendment protects our freedom of speech. But there are still things you can't say. Obviously threatening to kill someone, especially the president, is a no-no, and as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously wrote, "The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic."

So how are free speech rights balanced when it comes to interacting with police? Given the heightened tensions between officers and civilians, an increase in interactions at protests and demonstrations, and a rise in awareness and curiosity about legal rights when coming in contact with cops, exactly what you can, and can't, say to police officers has become a hot topic. Here are your general boundaries when it comes to swearing or yelling at police officers:

What Is the Penalty for Criminal Mischief?

Criminal mischief is an offense that covers a range of trouble, from playful misbehavior to malicious property destruction. Recently, for example, two teens in Alaska were charged with criminal mischief after negligently burning a love letter and starting a fire on school property. Meanwhile, in Michigan painting or sticking things on someone's property will get you arrested -- and the same goes for Texas.

Charged as either a misdemeanor or as a felony offense punishable with prison, depending on the state statute and extent of damage, criminal mischief involves the defacing and destruction of property. It's an interesting crime to consider lately especially as cultural notions of vandalism transform.

It seems like every day we're hearing news of criminal defendants, some of them on death row awaiting execution, being exonerated by DNA evidence or otherwise having their convictions overturned. Often, they have spent decades in jail, all for crimes they did not commit. Beyond the moral and legal obligations to have a criminal justice system that doesn't incarcerate innocent people, there are financial reasons to make sure only guilty parties are convicted and go to jail.

A recent study found that serious mistakes in California's criminal justice system cost the state (and taxpayers) over $282 million between 1989 and 2012. This total included trials, incarceration expenses, appeals, and compensation for those wrongfully imprisoned in cases where the state failed to prosecute the right person or obtained flawed or unsustainable convictions. These are mistakes that must be avoided at all costs.

Of the many things you should never say to a cop, a lie is near the top of the list -- especially if that lie is regarding a crime that was never committed. Filing a false police report can be a costly waste of time for law enforcement, not to mention a permanent stain on someone's reputation. And it might also land you in jail.

Almost every state makes false reporting of a crime its own criminal offense. And although the penalties can vary from state to state, they are all serious.

Zenefits Could Face Criminal Charges

Employees at the insurance brokerage Zenefits must not be feeling very Zen as the startup's shooting star comes crashing down like a house of cards. The company is under investigation in California and Washington and regulators warn that criminal charges could be filed against those who sold health insurance without proper licensing.

Zenefits' new CEO, David Sacks -- who replaced the company founder Parker Conrad just last week -- has already stated that the company skirted compliance requirements in order for workers to sell insurance. According to The San Francisco Business Times, Sacks has said that controls "have been inadequate and some decisions have just been plain wrong." Now regulators are investigating the free human resources software service that makes its money selling employment benefits.