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Seven Common Traps for the Unwary

By on Apr 1, 2012 | 2 comments

Happy beginning of April everyone! This week I’m going to go over some extremely common scenarios, and how you can avoid getting jammed up. I get a call at least once a day about these situations, so read this stuff carefully! Hopefully you can use this information to avoid these seven, very common traps for the unwary. Shall we begin?



Common situation: You and your friends are hanging out, shooting the breeze, engaging in some normal, all-American hypnotism; doing practice before the big show that night.  Suddenly your buddy has an idea: “Hey, why don’t we hypnotize Jones here and then publicly display him outside the exhibition hall where we will be putting on our hypnotism show?” Also you’re in Everett.


What could go wrong: Everett Municipal Code 9.24 et seq. prohibits the public display of hypnotized people in front of a hypnotism theater. And Everett takes this prohibition seriously, with the scofflaw facing up to $500.00 and six months in jail. It’s possible no one’s ever been found guilty of this crime, since a defendant could make the jury think they’re all chickens. But you can’t be too careful!



Common situation: You’re out sailing in Puget Sound when you come across another vessel. Feeling parched, you sail up alongside them and ask if they have any drinking water they can give you. “You didn’t bring anything to drink,” they ask concernedly? “No.” you tell them. “I completely forgot to pack anything to drink.” But this isn’t true! You packed some vodka.


What could go wrong: Because you’ve deceptively obtained something of value, you’ve just committed False Pretenses on the High Seas and Other Waters. For your piracy, you could be subject to fines and up to one year in jail. If you had deceived your way into obtaining over $1,000 worth of water your possible prison sentence goes up to five years. No deception on the ocean!



Common situation: Baby ducks! Baby ducks for days. You’re the mayor of Edgewood, Washington and you just don’t have time to watch all these baby ducks. Luckily you have a special friend that will take four baby ducks off your hands. Problem solved.


What could go wrong: Everything! Edgewood doesn’t allow you to give away baby ducks (or chickies or bunnies) in any quantity less than six. If you give away even a single baby duck, you could be facing a $250 fine, three months in jail, or both.



Common situation: You’ve got a cold, but if you call into work you’ll get fired. Your family needs a provider. Draining a bottle of Dayquil you shuffle off to work.


What could go wrong: Washington takes a cool view on people exposing the public to their germy presence.  Anyone who exposes the public to any contagious disease is guilty of a misdemeanor, facing three months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Stop going out in public when you’re sick! You monster.



Common situation: You’re just kinda fed up, or frustrated, or you just don’t like the American government. And your friends feel the same way. Sometimes you go out to the local watering hole and discuss a better country, a better government than the one you’re currently living under. Suddenly you have a brilliant idea: “Gents, let us levy war against the federal government! I suggest we oppose the agency of the United States by force!” “Jolly good plan, sir!” your weirdly anachronistic friends reply.


What could go wrong: Not much, except a little thing called Seditious Conspiracy! I feel like I get this call every hour. Friends, do not conspire to violently overthrow the government. Just don’t do it. Participate in elections, write satirical blog posts, maybe even occupy a bank or two. But conspiracy to commit a violent revolution, even though our own history kind of supports the principle, is frowned upon in modern times. Twenty years in the federal pen later, you’ll be wishing you listened!



Common situation: You want a student to help you with some flower arrangement. You go to the local school and ask if any of the students want to come with you to see your garden, maybe make a few extra bucks before the summer. One of the students does. It’s:

1)      Not trespassing
2)      Not kidnapping
3)      Not a male student


What could go wrong: It’s too bad you needed to adhere so strongly to gender stereotypes. If you had gotten a male student, I guess you could do whatever you want. But, a female? You’ve committed Enticement Away of Girls. You are now guilty of a misdemeanor, again facing three months in the slammer plus a $1,000 fine. Does this law make any sense at all? You should have thought about that before you did all that enticing, enticer.



Common situation: You’re on your fancy yacht on the Indian Ocean when you come across an island not on any map. You recklessly step onto the landmass and slip on a small pile of bird droppings. You immediately take ownership of the island, and claim it as belonging to the United States.


What could go wrong: Nothing! You’ve successfully asserted your claim, pursuant to the Guano Islands Act of 1856.  That rich vein of guano is now yours to distribute, subject to the tax code of the United States of course. Veni vidi vici indeed.


A merry first of April to everyone! If you run into any of these situations, or just need a Seattle criminal defense attorney, give me a call.

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  • Melody Clark

    Nice work, Noah! I’m so glad I noahlawyer. I’ll have to look into this island thing.

  • Cameron Parkhurst

    I enjoyed this one. Had me laughing this morning!

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