Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog


Ever want a reason to argue with your neighbors? Just cruise through your hood around election time. All of a sudden you'll discover where they all stand, politically speaking, thanks to all the yard signs declaring their favored candidate.

And perhaps it's neighborhood strife that Bel-Nor, Missouri was trying to avoid by limiting all residential premises to a single "political advertising" sign and prohibiting the display of political signs more than 15 days after an election. (Wouldn't want those sour grapes spilling over into physical confrontations.) But the ACLU says the town went too far after police threatened a Bel-Nor resident with jail time if he didn't remove his "Black Lives Matter," "Clinton Kaine," and "Jason Kander U.S. Senate" signs.

Here's a good rule of thumb: If it's illegal for Amazon, it's illegal for you, too. For years, the mega-retailer has been trying to utilize drone delivery, even experimenting with exploding drones (for safety's sake, you see), to no avail. So if Amazon can't use a drone to deliver that book to your door, you probably can't use one to deliver bud to a customer.

This would've been helpful information, perhaps, for Benjamin Paul Baldassarre and Ashley Lauren Carroll, who police claim had been using a drone to distribute drugs throughout their Riverside, California neighborhood.

Top 5 Dumb Crimes of 2017

We cover some strange and stupid crimes here on Legally Weird, so it's always nice to have an opportunity to look back on the strangest and the stupidest. And the year-end gives us just that opportunity.

So here are five of the dumbest crimes and criminals we've written about this year, for your reading pleasure.

Colorado legalized it, to a degree. It might be legal to consume marijuana and even grow a little of your own. Trading four pounds of "homegrown black market" weed for a sheriff's SUV on Craigslist?

Not so much.

A delivered package mysteriously going missing from your doorstep is a real problem. CNBC reports that 10 percent of us will be victims of package theft, which will only increase during the holiday season. And while we could take precautionary measures like having packages delivered to our workplaces or requiring signatures for delivery, where's the fun in that?

Instead, let's rig an empty box with some fishing wire and a 12-gauge shotgun blank that goes off when someone tries to steal the box.

Many of us don't know why you'd try to keep a wild animal as a pet, especially a purse-snatching, jogger-attacking trash panda. Then again, most of us aren't President Calvin Coolidge, or, for that matter, the Greers of West Seattle, Washington.

Kellie and Chris Greer rescued a weeks-old raccoon seven years ago, naming it Mae. Two weeks ago, a Department of Fish and Wildlife officer seized the raccoon from the Greer household, and now the Greers are suing for Mae's return.

We like to poke a little fun at people who try to pay fines in pennies. But a misguided protest that doesn't punish any of the people responsible for the fine itself shouldn't open the door for civil rights violations. And bringing $10 in pennies to pay a ticket doesn't give court officers the right to grabbed you from behind, choke you and throw to the ground so hard you defecate yourself.

But that's what one Michigan man alleges happened when he tried to pay a parking ticket in pennies in Royal Oak.

If we've learned anything from A Christmas Story, you find "the Christmas tree emporium of the Midwest," avoid the balsas, bargain like an Arab trader, and get the salesman to throw in some rope and tie it to your car for you. But police in Sudbury, Massachusetts pulled over a driver who may have taken that advice a little too far.

In that case, a single tree seemed to swallow a minivan whole. But how do you transport a Christmas tree, legally?

You would think that, after decades of classification as an illegal Schedule I narcotic, marijuana plants would be pretty easily identifiable to law enforcement personnel. But it took three assault rifle-toting Buffalo Township police officers four hours to distinguish between some Cannabaceae, the cultivation of which is a felony under Pennsylvania state pot laws, and Malvaceae, the cultivation of which will result in some nice, trumpet-shaped flowers with five or more petals ranging from white, pink, and yellow to red, orange, peach, or even purple.

Yes, Buffalo Township cops mistook a couple's hibiscus plants for marijuana, leading to them being handcuffed in the back of a patrol car for hours while officers ransacked their house and backyard. Now the couple is suing the township (and the alleged tipster), claiming wrongful arrest.

When most people hear of a defendant 'getting off on a technicality,' they think of it in a pejorative sense, assuming a criminal is going unpunished because of some fancy lawyering or a quirk in the law. But those technicalities are there for a reason.

"It's really important for us to be fair," Jeffrey Shear, New York City's Deputy Department of Finance Commissioner for Treasury and Payment Service told 1010 WINS. Shear was announcing the dismissal of over 500,000 parking tickets -- costing the city around $26 million -- all on a technicality.