"What's an illegal thing you used to do on a regular basis without knowing it was illegal to begin with?" asked Reddit user SalohcinPancakes, prompting fellow Redditors to spill their secrets.
Growing up, it falls on our parents and other adults in our life to teach us the ropes of living in a society. What's acceptable in social circles, what'll make you a pariah, what's the right conduct in particular situations, what'll get you kicked out of a funeral/wedding, what's legal, and what's not: these are things we don't exactly learn from textbooks and unless alerted by people, we could easily go years unknowingly toeing the line between right and wrong. That's exactly what happened to these unsuspecting Redditors who risked landing in trouble by regularly indulging in illegal activities without realizing it.
"What's an illegal thing you used to do on a regular basis without knowing it was illegal to begin with?" asked Reddit user SalohcinPancakes, prompting fellow Redditors to spill their secrets. Here are 25 of the most interesting responses to this amusing question:
"I used to think the little olive kiosks in grocery stores were samples. I would always leave with a little produce bag of various olives and enjoy my treat on the ride home. I had odd tastes as a kid." — menstrually-unstable
"Trespassing. As a kid (think 6, 7) my younger brother and I would go over into our neighbor’s yard (he had a fantastic garden) and play quietly. He never said anything; he was a WWII veteran and lived alone. I guess we amused him. When he died, a new family moved into the house. We continued our ventures into the yard and the family must’ve found out, because we walked over one day to be met with a locked fence. Our days of playtime were over.
Apparently [the veteran] lived alone because he had disowned his son for being gay, and once his wife died he stopped coming around. When he was dying my dad and mom visited him because no one else was. He was delirious and thought my dad was his son and started apologizing and saying he should’ve been a better dad. The son in question never showed up to visit but when he came to the neighborhood to look at the house, my dad told him what his father had said. He broke down sobbing. I guess we were like the grandchildren he never had. Either way this whole story was more depressing than I thought so I’m going to grab some tissues." — _theavidreader13_
"Had a friend who liked to touch all the paintings in museums. She had been doing this her whole life, thought it was totally normal, and had just happened never to get caught. She did not believe me when I told her that you aren't allowed to. We got kicked out of the museum.
To those asking how we got kicked out (or rather, she got kicked out and I left with her): she walked down a row of paintings and dragged her hand across every one of them, and a pretty pissed off looking guard asked her to “please leave.” No dramatic scene or anything, probably could have stayed if she’d explained that she really didn’t know but she was pretty embarrassed by the whole thing so we just hustled out." — gayvoter97
"Not me but a friend of mine accidentally stole coffee for an entire semester. We had a small cafe on campus that sold small meals you could take to class and drinks. They had their coffee area set up next to the counter. So you had to order and pay for it, then they would give you a cup and you would go fill it up yourself. She thought it was free and would just go up to it a few times a day and fill up her reusable cup. She finally noticed after we ran into each other in line and she watched me order mine and pay for it." — bittebritta96
"I once had this coworker that was always coming up with hair-brained business schemes. One day he comes in and start going on this rant about how he’s going to become a millionaire. He explains that he recently purchased like 10,000 SD cards from China, and he got a card reader for them. They cost like $0.50 each or something, and he’s all like “But they can hold up to 10 GB of data each! That’s enough for like four movies, and I can sell them for like $20 each!” He goes on to talk about the incredible margins his new business is going to have, and how he just needs to earn back enough so he can afford to upgrade to a 'multi card reader.' Also, his big plan was to put this stuff on 'my myspace' and then mail the cards to people. At this point I’m feeling bad for the guy since he’s obviously already dumped $$$ into this, but figured it’s better for him to lose that than land himself in prison. So I’m like, 'dude, you realize that’s illegal right? You’re going to get FBI coming after you for movie piracy.' The look on his face, just like, completely defeated. Felt sorry for him, but seriously?" — eblingdp
"Back when my ex was a barista at Starbucks I would drive her to work every day at 4AM and take a specific route.
Thought nothing of it and the route became muscle memory.
One day she asks me to pick her up early and I take the usual route. After I make a right turn on a red light (perfectly legal in the US) I suddenly get those dreaded lights behind me.
The police officer came up to my window and asked for my credentials. Fine... I thought. I considered myself a very competent driver up to this point and had never gotten into a crash or so much as a ticket.
She comes back and the conversation went something like this:
Officer: Do you know why I pulled you over?
Me: (annoyed) no.
Officer: Do you realize that turn you made back there was illegal?
Me: Last time I checked it was legal to turn right on red, no?
Officer: Sure, but there's obviously a sign that says that you can't do it at that specific intersection.
Me: Impossible... I've been taking that turn every day for the past 6 months...
Sure enough after the officer gave me the 'are you f***ing serious' look along with my ticket I drove back to the intersection and every traffic light had a 'Do Not Turn On Red' sign on it.
I totally deserved that ticket lol..." — Serious-Candidate
"Fishing without a license. Had a male Karen accost me over not having a fishing license a few months ago. Had no idea that was an actual thing or that it mattered for catch-and-release ponds. He basically threatened to call the cops on my friends and I because we didn't have fishing licenses so we had to stop fishing and leave. Bare in mind, this was a large catch-and-release pond with a nature center that you could rent poles from and buy that shitty green marshmallow bait. The dude just wanted the shady spot where you could catch bass to himself." — MrLionOtterBearClown
"Owning the wrong type of flashlight.
Around 25 years ago i was looking for a flashlight and found a good one at a store specializing in camping and hunting goods. Since it came with a mounting bracket the salesperson pointed out that (here in germany) attaching a flashlight to a firearm is illegal. I don't even own any firearms, so i didn't care much and put the light in my toolbox.
A few years later i found out that the actual wording of the law states that a 'flashlight designed to be attached to a weapon' is an illegal item and just owning the light and the bracket can be considered a crime." — Dr_Allcome
"I make a lot of things out of wood and metal. I didn't know how aggressive railyards can be about their shit. A few times in my life I've found railraod spikes partially buried in pebbles up to ten feet away from the track, and I've taken those to make knives and jewellery with. Turns out they do not like it when people take their rusted, busted junk that they leave to the elements." — Wrylis
"Trespassing. When I was a kid, literally the entire neighborhood was my playground. I was all up in EVERYBODIES yards. Frontyards, backyards. I would run around with my crazy imagination and fight all kinds of armies and monsters and dragons, aliens, zombies, demons. I would pick up any rock in anyones yard I thought looked cool and bring it back to my own collection. I climbed every tree around, ate from this one guys orange tree, and even made orange juice a few times. Played in all of the ditches, and climbed through all of the giant piles of tree clippings anytime someone trimmed a tree
But I also made friends with every kid around, and was invited into all of their houses to play video games. My childhood was wild." — Raemnant
"I used to catch mice in a little box in the shop I worked at and would release them outside. We had poison down and glue traps but never caught anything and I felt this was more humane (I would take them to a little park nearby)
It wasn’t until a few months after doing this that a park warden told me they were vermin and it was illegal to catch and release that I realised. I checked and in the city I live in, yes it is considered illegal.
I also used to mod and paint Nerf guns so they resembled firearms for Cosplay purposes, they were non working and rendered safe props but painting them black is a no-no as far as the Metropolitan Police are concerned." — Glitch_in_the_pink
"I grew up in a rural Appalachian area, We would ride our dirt bikes on the highway all the time. Usually just a few miles to the next dirt road but it never occurred to us that a 13-year-old riding on the highway with no drivers license no insurance and no license plate was against the law until the new state trooper assigned to the three counties, started chasing us. The sheriff's department only had one deputy and they just waved at us . As long as you weren’t doing wheelies on the wrong side of the highway or something they didn’t care." — SnooHabits8041
"As a nurse in the States, if we have a multi-use medication (inhaler, medicated cream, insulin pen, etc) I would always give it to my patient when they were discharged. They already paid for it and they're one patient use. Apparently, as a nurse I'm only allowed to throw it away. Even if they are leaving the hospital with a prescription for the same exact medication. I can't give it to them. I have to throw it away. It's outside my scope of practice to 'dispense' a medication. Another reason your healthcare costs are so high in USA." — CJ_MR
"Used to carry a switchblade around when I was 14 or so, that shit's blade was huge, thankfully no one ever stopped me, after an year or so discovered in my country switchblades were illegal to carry." — Charles0301
"Drive body parts across county lines.
I taught anatomy labs at a community college and used to take the brains and other internal organs for my high school science students to see/study.
I did this for five years until the dean at the college pulled me into his office and asked why I had body parts on a cart, heading out of the building. I assured him I had been doing this each semester and that I would bring them back the next evening and students wouldn't miss them. He assured me that I wouldn't because apparently you need a license to transport cadaver materials to another county and that I was likely committing a felony.
Whoops." — JL_Adv
"Underage drinking. In the country where my family is from, it's perfectly acceptable.
Underage sex. My buddy got caught with the mayor's daughter (they were fourteen months apart, and the law was twelve) and the prosecutor wanted to put him on the sex offenders list. It was new, and we had no idea how much it would screw up his life. His dad got him a lawyer." — Catlenfell