16 Strange but True Legal Facts, the Odd Things That Have Occurred in Legal Circles

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9 Mud Splashing Road Rule In Australia

In Australia the states make and police the rules for driving. They take the majority of the rules from the National Australian Road Rules, but they can make variations and remove or add additional rules. This can sometimes make it difficult for inter-state drivers where a rule can exist in one state but not another. But in the state of New South Wales they have a bizarre rule regarding splashing mud on people.

The law as it stands at first glance makes some sense. It states that it is an offence to splash mud on a bus passenger, or a person waiting for a bus, or entering or exiting a bus. If the driver of a car is caught by police splashing mud on a bus passenger they can be fined. But it is only bus passengers! Nowhere in the road rules does it make mention of any other road user or pedestrian, whether they are waiting for a taxi or other form of transport. If any other pedestrian is splashed by mud the driver will not be fined, and if they were fined a court would dismiss it as it is not against the law. How weird is that?

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10 There Are More Bathrooms Than Needed In The Pentagon

restroom

When the Pentagon was built in the 1940’s in Virginia it was built with extra bathrooms. Nearly twice as many as was actually needed.  The reason behind the additional bathrooms is that it was built during a dark chapter in US history. During it’s construction racial segregation was common practice, and still the law of the land in Virginia.

Although the Pentagon was a federal building, it was built in Virginia which had racial laws. The President has outlawed racial segregation in the federal government in 1941, but the laws in Virginia still required for the races to be separated. To get around this this difficult situation of having to comply with one federal law that banned racial segregation and the law of Virginia that required segregation the bathrooms were not labeled “whites only” and “coloreds only”, they were only referred to as for “different classes of people.”

When President Roosevelt visited the Pentagon in May 1942 he questioned the large number of washrooms. He was told it was to comply with State laws. It is believed the bathrooms were not marked “whites and coloreds” at the Presidents request.

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11 A Spanish Town Returns Dog Droppings to Owners Who Don’t Clean Up After their Dogs

It is inconvenient, a hassle, and just plain disgusting. Nearly everyone has, at some point, trodden in dog poo. But one town is fighting back.

A town in Spain has hit upon a novel and new way to try and stop dog owners leaving their dogs droppings on the ground. They have decided to collect the faeces, analyse them, and once they have figured out the responsible dog, return the dogs droppings to the owner by mail.

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12 In 19th Century England, Police Could Strip Search Any Woman Without A Warrant

strange but true legal facts

In a time before antibiotics sexually transmitted infections were a much bigger problem than they are today. What many consider as a mild ailment that can be treated simply by taking a few pills were once debilitating, and sometimes fatal diseases. People knew how they were transmitted, but the lack of advances in medical science severely crippled their attempts to stifle the spread of STI’s. So in an effort to bring a =n outbreak to a halt, the British government did something that would be outrageous today.

By the 1860’s the British government had finally realized that many of the armed services men were suffering from venereal diseases like gonorrhea and syphilis. To combat this they introduced a law that allowed police to search the private parts of only women without a warrant. It didn’t matter who or how old they were or what they were doing. All women were potential targets. All the police needed was any person to say they suspect something and the woman could be dragged off to a police station and inspected by a male police officer. Clearly this was wrong on so many levels, and discriminatory in more ways than one.

Not only were women the only target of this disgusting law, but it was also class biased. The only women who were searched were the poor and working class.

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13 US Income Tax Was Introduced To Fund The Civil War

US Income Tax Was Introduced To Fund The Civil War

 

Who likes paying their taxes? A sound of silence falls upon the world. No one likes paying their taxes, but it’s an unfortunate part of life, as certain as death. As far as I’m concerned they don’t spend the money wisely enough for me to be paying the government ny more than I have to. However, as far as income tax is concerned, it wasn’t always a part of the US landscape. Income tax was only temporarily introduced to fund the Civil War.

Prior to the US Civil war there was no income tax in the United States. It was introduced as part of Revenue Act of 1861 to help the Union fund the war effort. The tax rate was initially set at 3% for incomes over $800 per year. It was repealed the following year and replaced with a new income tax. Three percent, those lucky bastards.

1894 saw the first peace time income tax introduced, but it was ruled to be unconstitutional the following year. But undeterred in their pursuit of more money, the government and IRS continued to seek ways to get more cash from its citizens. In 1913 they finally succeeded when the 16 Amendment made the tax a permanent fixture.

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14 The Vatican City Has No Laws Against Drug Possession Or Sale

coke

The city state of Vatican City has no laws prohibiting the sale or possession of drugs. This oversight was first noticed in 2007 when an employee of the Vatican City governors office was caught with 87 grams of cocaine. The man was sentenced to serve 6 months in prison as there is a treaty between Italy and the Vatican City that allows the Vatican to impose a prison term up to 6 months in some ambiguous circumstances. The man was handed the maximum sentence.

While the Vatican has a prison system, the jails are rarely used.

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15 Marijuana Was Once Legal Everywhere

Marijuana Was Once Legal

Marijuana (pot) is illegal in many US states and most countries around the world, but there was a time when marijuana was legal. In the 1700’s and 1800’s it was widely grown and used around the world by all classes of people. I can imagine a lot of people from the era tripping like in the gif above.

In 1876 the Sultan of Turkey gave the United Stated a gift of marijuana. By the 1880’s there were Turkish smoking parlors opening all over the north east of the US.

Two of the United States most revered presidents also grew marijuana. President George Washington grew it as his main crop at Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson grew it as his secondary crop at Monticello.

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16 Sears Once Sold Cocaine

cocaine

As they say, ignorance is bliss. That’s what makes this fact just so entertaining today. Back in the late 19th century Sears sold cocaine in it’s catalog. That’s cocaine, as in the drug coke, and no one at all was charged or even investigated. And we did say Sears, not Walmart. But how did anyone get away with this? Surely someone made one hell of a mistake and should have lost their job at least.

Back in the 19th century not much was known about narcotics like cocaine. Apart from the feel good high, not much else was known about it, it’s side effects, addiction and general debilitating and life changing effects it had on a person. People actually thought that it was a safe drug and completely harmless.

During the 1890’s you could actually buy cocaine and a syringe from the Sears catalog, then known as Sears & Roebeck, for only $1.50. So not only did they distribute a narcotic for profit, they also sold he tools needed to inject the dangerous drug directly into the system.

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As a bonus fact that I’m not yet 100 percent convinced is real, simply due to a lack of any hard evidence. According to many, in Kentucky it is illegal to carry ice cream in your back pocket.

The law prohibiting people from carrying ice cream in their back pocket originated during the days before auto mobiles. Just like today, theft of transport was a real and persistent problem, the only difference was the item being stolen was a living animal. Apparently what the crooks would do is place ice cream in their back pocket and try and lead the horse away with a sweet treat. They could honestly say that they didn’t steal the horse, it just followed them. According to many sources, the law was introduced in an attempt to foil those who sought to entice the horses away from their owners.

Now as I said, there is no hard evidence that this was ever a real law, but there are a few reasons why it could be true.

In recent years a lot of old repealed laws were purposely destroyed because they were no longer needed. This law could have been among them. It’s also possible that it wasn’t a statewide law, but one that was introduced by a county following some isolated incident. If we ever find out for sure we will certainly update this list.

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BONUS FACT

Talk about competition. In 2005 Ronald MacDonald robbed a Wendy’s store in Manchester, England.

Yes, that is correct, but it wasn’t the red haired Ronald MacDonald you would be familiar with. The Ronald MacDonald who robbed a Wendy’s store just happened to have the same name. He happened to be a 22 year old man who decided to rob the store at 1:30 in the morning with the help of a friend.

We hope you enjoyed our list of strange but true legal facts. Please hit the share button and keep browsing our site for more weird facts from around the world and across the universe.

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