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Ignorance of the Law: Crimes You Might Not Realize You Are Committing

  • November 16, 2022

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Crimes You Might Not Realize You Are Committing

It is often said that "ignorance of the law is no excuse." In other words, even if you did not know that what you did was against the law, you can still be charged with a crime. This is true for both federal and state laws. Unfortunately, there are many crimes that people commit daily without realizing it. Here are some examples.


You might not realize it, but jaywalking is a crime in many states. Jaywalking occurs when a pedestrian crosses a street illegally or outside a crosswalk. Jaywalking is dangerous because it increases the risk of pedestrian-vehicle accidents. In some states, jaywalking is considered a misdemeanor offense; in others, it is only punishable by a fine.


Littering is another common crime that people commit without realizing it. Littering occurs when an individual throws trash on the ground instead of disposing of it properly in a trash can. Littering is not only unsightly, but it can also harm the environment and wildlife. Depending on the state, littering may be punishable by a fine or even jail time.

Disorderly Conduct

Disorderly conduct is a catch-all offense covering a wide range of behaviors considered disruptive or harmful to others. Disorderly conduct offenses include public intoxication, loitering, panhandling, and excessive noise. The punishment for disorderly conduct varies depending on the state, but it can range from a fine to jail time.

Driving Without a License

Driving without a license is a crime in all 50 states. In most states, driving without a license is considered a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine and jail time. However, in some states, driving without a permit can be classified as a felony offense if the offender has multiple prior convictions or if someone was injured due to the offender's actions.


Fraud is a broad category of crimes that involve deception with the intent to gain something of value. There are many types of fraud, such as identity theft, credit card fraud, insurance fraud, and tax fraud. You might not realize that you are committing fraud, for example, when you are lying about something simple like your income or creating a social media profile and using someone else's photos and information. Depending on the type of fraud and the value of what was gained, penalties can range from a fine to jail time. If you have been charged with a crime, you must speak to a Criminal Law Attorney as soon as possible.

Tax Evasion

There are many ways you can commit tax evasion and not even know it. Tax evasion is the act of illegally avoiding paying taxes. This can be done in several ways, such as underreporting your income; for example, you are receiving cash tips working in the service industry and not reporting it, or you are not reporting an additional rent income you receive. Unfortunately, many people commit tax invasions because of ignorance of the law. Tax evasion is a serious crime that can lead to heavy fines and jail time. 

These are just four examples of crimes you might not realize you are committing daily. Therefore, it is important to familiarize yourself with federal and state laws so that you do not inadvertently break the law and face criminal charges. Remember, ignorance of the law is no excuse!