Legal Grounds - The FindLaw Legal News with an Attitude Blog


With all the news of police shootings, many of which involve innocent or unarmed civilians and are caught on video, we might find it easy to rush to judgment of law enforcement officers after a firearm incident. But who among us has not attempted a backflip in bar around 1 a.m., had their handgun fall from their waistband, and then accidentally fired it into the crowd, striking a bystander in the leg?

It happens to the best of us, and it happened to off-duty, on-vacation FBI agent Chase Bishop in a Denver bar last month. The good news? The guy Bishop shot is going to be fine. The really good news? Bishop got his gun back.

The Declaration of Independence, as the ratification of the thirteen American colonies' war against Great Britain, was seen as an act of treason at the time. And while the phrase "hate speech" wasn't in common parlance in the late 1700s, the Declaration certainly employed some inflammatory language -- that was the whole point.

Almost 250 years later, the Declaration of Independence, hate speech, and treason all came together on the most likely place: Facebook, of course.

Yes!

Allow us to elaborate. The recent eruptions of the Kilauea volcano on Hawai'i have shown us the beauty and devastation of nature. As gorgeous as lava eruptions and flows can be, however, they tend to be a tad bit dangerous as well. And despite repeated warnings from police, folks still wanted to get their selfies with the Aloha State's latest attraction.

So yes, you can definitely get arrested for trying to get a lava selfie.

'We have made an arrest in the case of the missing animals,' Santa Fe College Police Captain Ryan Woods said in a statement. 'Our investigation is continuing, and we are still concerned for the safety of the missing animals and we hope we are able to recover them quickly.'

That's how we find out that there are laws against having your own zoo in your own apartment, apparently. And here I thought we lived in America.

Or Florida, at least.

The last thing you want, if you're a maker of self-driving cars, is for one of those self-driving cars to crash. People don't want to ride in a self-driving car that crashes. Understandable, right?

But some crashes are inevitable. After all, people-driven cars crash all the time -- in staggering numbers, in fact -- and this is all very new technology, so there are bound to be some crashes. And the last thing you want your self-driving car to crash into? The cops.

The cops are on social media. We repeat: the cops are on social media.

They have access to your Facebook photos. They're getting your info from Twitter. They can use fake social media accounts to gather intel, and can even call themselves "Sweet Cheeks" to lure you into giving up your address.

Any self-respecting criminal should know the cops are all over social media these days. And yet.

Can I Yell at Other Drivers With My Own PA System?

Who hasn't dreamt about using a public address system in their car? Whether it's to politely chastise the guy who cut you off, kindly inform that little old lady that you'll wait while she crosses the street, or dutifully remind another driver that it's incredibly moronic to text or watch videos while driving, a car-based PA system sounds really handy. Sure, sure, it could also be really annoying, depending on who's controlling it. But most of us would use it judiciously, right? 

But before you strap one on your car and begin educating your fellow travelers at will, check your local traffic laws. Yelling at other drivers with your own PA system might not be legal. 

Imagine you payed thousands of dollars for a heart monitor that could detect when you were about to have a heart attack. Except, instead of doing that, it peed on your expensive sofa and chewed through your new shoes. That's similar to what a lawsuit claims some consumers experienced when they purchased what they thought were "diabetic alert dogs." Now, the company that sold those dogs is being sued by the state's attorney general.

Looking for a great deal on a pre-owned vehicle? Tired of negotiating with those uppity, big-time salespeople? Having trouble getting approved for a car loan and want to pay cash instead?

Well come on down to Kansas City's impounded car auction! Where you'll find great deals on wrecked and abandoned cars, illegally parked vehicles, or newer models seized by police in criminal investigations! We've even got Chrysler sedans, Ford trucks, and a Lexus ES 300, straight off the lot. (Disclaimer: Don't pay attention to that federal lawsuit involving the sale of these vehicles.)

As the Advocate in Baton Rouge put it in January, when a local police chief's wife was spotted behind the wheel of his patrol car in the annual Christmas parade, it led to a few raised eyebrows. When she pulled up to the French Settlement Police Station in February, turned her headlights out, and allegedly attempted to run into an investigating officer before fleeing the scene, it led to DUI, speeding, and driving with a suspended license charges.

As the Advocate was careful to point out when reporting the latter incident, however: "She was not driving a patrol car at the time of her arrest."