Most people live their lives relatively free of legal trouble. However, that doesn't mean that most people haven't broken a law or two. In fact, it's likely that you've broken the law pretty regularly through the course of your regular routine--and you might not even know it.
The good news is that you'll probably never face legal consequences for doing so. That said, here are some of the most likely laws you've broken without realizing that you're doing so.
1. Copyright Infringement
Most people are aware of the music piracy problem. The RIAA estimates that music piracy costs the U.S. economy approximately 12.5 billion dollars each year. That's because artists and local businesses lose a great deal of money every time someone illegally downloads their work for private use.
The funny thing is you've probably violated copyright laws with your music use even if you don't use a computer--at least once a year, anyway. That's because the song "Happy Birthday" is protected under copyright law. If you've sung that to a family member or friend in a public place, making it a public performance, you might have broken the law!
Gambling laws vary from state to state. Most states allow limited forms of gambling to take place in casinos or other licensed establishments. Also, playing the state lottery by picking numbers or completing scratch-off tickets is perfectly legal.
But how about that office NCAA pool? Poker night at your buddy's house? Those are typically illegal. Technically, you might even be breaking a law if you travel across your state's border to purchase another state's lottery ticket when the jackpot is large. That said, you probably won't be facing charges for these types of things anytime soon.
3. Tax Evasion
No one likes to pay taxes. Even with standardized income forms and automated tax filing software, most people are required to report personal expenses and other deductions in order to save money during the tax season. Most people don't save all of their receipts and carefully audit their spending when it comes time to do this, either.
That means most people are likely incorrect with their totals. When this happens, they are technically committing tax fraud. Fortunately, more than 99% of all tax returns move through the system without an audit. As long as you're trying to be honest, you'll probably be alright.
4. Wi-Fi Theft
Technology makes our lives wonderfully convenient. In fact, with most devices that connect to the internet, this connection is automatic. They'll actually connect to any unsecured wi-fi networks that are in range whenever possible--unless you turn off this setting.
When that happens, you might be guilty of fraud. Even if the network is unsecured, you're likely using it in a way that the owner is not intending. Since the network is not yours, you're violating the law without actively doing anything. Isn't technology great?
5. Identity Fraud
This issue came to light a few years ago when a mother utilized a false MySpace profile to bully one of her daughter's friends until she took her own life. However, most of us have used a fake profile at some point or another. In fact, this is often a suggested tactic to reduce the amount of junk e-mail in your inbox when signing up for offers or coupons.
When you do this, you're misrepresenting yourself. Often, Internet registration includes a statement in the use policy that verifies you've identified yourself truthfully. While these don't feel like they're legally binding, you are likely in violation of a statute when you lie about your personal information.
It is interesting to see just how extensive our legal framework is and how easy it is to find yourself breaking the law--even without knowing it. Continue here for more information on legal representation.