I need a list of minor crimes
June 4, 2014 7:13 AM   Subscribe

For a project of mine, I need a list of petty crimes, misdemeanors, and minor offenses. Think things like stealing pencils, jaywalking, siphoning gas, or taking home a roll of toilet paper.
posted by fake to Society & Culture (41 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
There's always loitering, illegal in a lot of places. "We think you might commit a crime, so..."
posted by selfnoise at 7:19 AM on June 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

Stumbled across this list of misdemeanors from the state of Colorado. I'd start with the Class II offenses (beginning page 5) and work from there. There's some junk, but several good ones like "leaving a campfire unattended" and "failure to display a vessel number."
posted by duffell at 7:23 AM on June 4, 2014

A friend was arrested for wheatpasting an activist flyer at a bus shelter.
posted by desjardins at 7:23 AM on June 4, 2014

Littering? Panhandling? Squatting? Vagrancy?
posted by devnull at 7:24 AM on June 4, 2014

Do you need to know what state too? Because a lot of these things will be legal one place and will get you a fine in the next.
posted by Aranquis at 7:25 AM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you Google "Massachusetts Master Crime List," you will find a list of felonies and misdemeanors labeled as such.
posted by cribcage at 7:26 AM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Lists of "wacky laws" and such will be great for this.

On a cursory googling:

-a car door may not be open for longer than necessary in Oregon
-you can't have a shooting range target shaped like a human in Massachusetts
-San Francisco has a copyright on San Francisco, so anything published with San Francisco on it has to pay royalties to the city
-keeping rats as pets is illegal in Billings, Montana
-it's illegal to wash a sink in Baltimore

This may be more niche than what you're looking for, but you may get ideas looking through these sorts of things.
posted by phunniemee at 7:27 AM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Causing a global financial crisis.
posted by XMLicious at 7:36 AM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Subway/Streetcar/Tram/Bus/etc. Fare Evasion?
posted by Gev at 7:40 AM on June 4, 2014

Response by poster: Do you need to know what state too?

Nope, and I'm not necessarily looking for wacky laws (eg. in my home state of ND, it is illegal to wear boots while sleeping, don't care), although certainly some of those laws would cover things I'm looking for, so I'll search there (thanks for the suggestion).

It's tough to define 'cause it's so simple. Examples from above that were great - loitering, littering, squatting, fare evasion (yes!). Trying harder to define it, I'm broadly looking stuff that's dishonest, sneaky, or just "mildly criminal" (as I mentioned above, stealing pens from the office). I'm not really concerned about the exact legal status in any state or country.
posted by fake at 7:42 AM on June 4, 2014

– Conning the supermarket’s self-service till – weighing and paying for bog-standard spuds instead of the jersey royals you’re shovelling into your bag, for example, or claiming your mandarins are in fact satsumas (and saving c.20p); lying to the machine you’ve brought your own bag, allowing you to claim one whole extra reward point on your loyalty card
– Paying tradesmen in (untaxable) cash
– Piggybacking on your neighbour’s wifi
– Buying or selling tickets from/to touts
– Smuggling a bottle or two of vodka (or a carton of cigarettes etc) over your allowance in your suitcase
– Forging parents’ signatures on school notes
– Throwing a sickie
posted by HandfulOfDust at 7:47 AM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Tricking the checkout person at a shop into giving you too much change (either "hey I paid with a 20 not a 10!" or doing that thing were you give them £10 in coins in exchange for a £10 note but really you only gave them £9.50 or something).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:50 AM on June 4, 2014

I once brought a gallon Ziploc bag full of basil across the boarder to Canada. I kind of felt like George Jung, only nerdier.
posted by bondcliff at 7:56 AM on June 4, 2014

Those lists of wacky laws are mostly a load of crap so I wouldn't use those. Unless you are writing a humorous story.
posted by interplanetjanet at 7:56 AM on June 4, 2014

Talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving (in my state, anyway)
Low-level speeding
Sneaking through a red light
Fishing without a license
Swimming where you aren't supposed to (my spouse got a $95 ticket for that one)
Not licensing your dog or cat
Noise ordinances (aka disturbing the peace with your music, loud party, fighting, etc.)
posted by dlugoczaj at 8:03 AM on June 4, 2014

Putting unstamped mail or flyers in someone's mailbox
Posting flyers on a telephone pole
posted by dlugoczaj at 8:06 AM on June 4, 2014

Snacking from the bulk bin
Pretending to pick up dog poop when you don't really have a bag
Taking a fistful of paper napkins from Starbucks
Going for your evening walk with a gin and tonic in a travel mug
"Not noticing" when one of your purchases fails to ring up
Putting your extra trash in someone's dumpster
Dying clothes in the laundromat washer
posted by HotToddy at 8:15 AM on June 4, 2014

fare evasion (yes!)

As a more specific example, in NYC, there are a lot of people who try to get someone with an unlimited monthly Metrocard to sell them a free "swipe" at the turnstile, for less than the legal cost of the Metrocard, essentially cheating the law-abiding passengers out of a bit of money.

You can find a lot of these in New York Penal Code article 240: "offenses against public order." For instance, you're guilty of loitering if you "remain[] in any transportation facility, unless specifically authorized to do so, for the purpose of soliciting or engaging in any business, trade or commercial transactions involving the sale of merchandise or services, or for the purpose of entertaining persons by singing, dancing or playing any musical instrument." It's also illegal to make an "appearance in public under the influence of narcotics or a drug other than alcohol ... to the degree that [you] may ... annoy persons in [your] vicinity."
posted by John Cohen at 8:16 AM on June 4, 2014

Feeding the meter is generally not allowed, but I doubt you'd find anyone who's ever been cited for it.

Similar to loitering, many areas have "no camping" regulations (to discourage vagrants, I believe).

Depending on your own perspective, breaking "blue laws" could be pretty minor. Here in Massachusetts, we still have laws about happy hours (no liquor discounts allowed), open bars (not allowed unless it's a "private" event), and selling liquor on holidays (all the package stores were required to close on Memorial Day). Bars get in trouble for breaking these all the time, but the repercussions I've seen have been very mild. On the other hand, one of our friends just graduated from med school and their school-sponsored graduation party was shut down by the cops because it was a) open bar and b) tickets were being sold, therefore not qualifying it as a "private" event.
posted by backseatpilot at 8:28 AM on June 4, 2014

I've seen citations for riding a horse while intoxicated.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 8:29 AM on June 4, 2014

In some places bribing a government official, or accepting a bribe, is unremarkable.

A blind eye is usually turned towards war profiteering.
posted by XMLicious at 8:32 AM on June 4, 2014

taking an unpaid "extra" newspaper from a streetside vending rack.
posted by effluvia at 8:53 AM on June 4, 2014

Taking credit for someone else's work.
Not reporting found money.
Lying about your kid's age to get a lower price at a restaurant or amusement park.
Taxing a bag of weed.
Not putting the paid bag sticker on your garbage bag while the dump guy's not looking.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 9:35 AM on June 4, 2014

I found this one surprising, as I'm pretty sure my mum left us three kids in the car while we did supermarket shops .. http://www.salon.com/2014/06/03/the_day_i_left_my_son_in_the_car/

My ex got into a legal battle with the Tyne and Wear Metro system for planning to leave his used Metro dayticket on the turnstile for someone to pick up. They checked tickets and he had written something like 'Enjoy!' on it, which displayed said intention.

In the UK, not putting things in your recycling bin that can be recycled is a crime. As is taking your kids out of school in term time to get cheaper holidays. Cycling on the pavement is something some police will stop you for. Running a raffle without permission is illegal I think..

(Walking around late at night if you're not white also seems to be illegal here..)
posted by Dorothea_in_Rome at 9:41 AM on June 4, 2014

Sampling items from bulk food bins.
posted by goethean at 9:46 AM on June 4, 2014

Borrowing someone's disabled parking placard?
posted by SuperSquirrel at 10:36 AM on June 4, 2014

Just to honor my grandfather (an attorney) who summarize such crimes thus: "mopery, gapery, and attempt to gawk".
posted by mr. digits at 10:56 AM on June 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

Feeding the meter is generally not allowed, but I doubt you'd find anyone who's ever been cited for it.

Tell that to Mr. Twister, a beloved clown who has recently returned to his home in Santa Cruz.
posted by toxic at 11:05 AM on June 4, 2014

Malum prohibitum
Victimless crimes
NY Violations (less than misdemeanors) and Class B misdemeanors
posted by melissasaurus at 11:06 AM on June 4, 2014

Tossing a cigarette butt out of a car window
posted by lakersfan1222 at 11:41 AM on June 4, 2014

Theft by deception
Theft of property lost, mislaid, or delivered by mistake
Rogue and vagabond
posted by Rob Rockets at 12:41 PM on June 4, 2014

Driving in a bus or carpool lane.
posted by hazyjane at 1:15 PM on June 4, 2014

You might find some good ideas in the Wikipedia entry for the UK's Anti-Social Behavior Orders. ASBOs "were designed to correct minor incidents that would not ordinarily warrant criminal prosecution."
posted by MsMolly at 2:28 PM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

My dad got arrested at a protest for "parading without a permit."

My mom got arrested as a teenager for violating her town's curfew.

My brother got arrested for "drunk and disorderly" when he was 100% sober because he was mouthing off to a cop.

I'm the only one in my immediate biological family to never get arrested for anything (yet). I feel so left out. :(
posted by Jacqueline at 5:43 PM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Unlawful entry/trespassing includes things like staying in a public park past the closing time listed on the sign at the entrance, or going into a friend's apartment building after someone who opens the front door with a key and then hanging out in the hallway waiting for the friend to come home.
posted by decathecting at 5:44 PM on June 4, 2014

Go to the website of your state and find where the statutes are posted. Then look for two key words, the favorites of policemen everywhere:

disorderly conduct
disturbing the peace

As a shortcut, search these terms on Google Scholar, Case Law for your state.
posted by megatherium at 6:23 PM on June 4, 2014

Graffiti is open to so many interesting variants ranging from lewdness to the politically alarming to a harmless, charming quirk.
posted by cleroy at 6:53 PM on June 4, 2014

Spitting on the sidewalk. A leftover, I think, from when TB was a national scourge.
posted by BoscosMom at 10:02 PM on June 4, 2014

leaving dog poo
posted by misformiche at 7:08 PM on November 11, 2014

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