50 Most Absurd State Laws

There’s some really strange stuff, both enforceable and unenforceable, that’s been codified into law. Have we considered that justice may be near-sighted?

1. California: Don’t you dare give someone a massage therapist’s license if they have not earned that massage therapist’s license.

628. A person who provides a certificate, […] or otherwise affirms that a person has received instruction in massage therapy knowing that the person has not received instruction in massage therapy […] is guilty of a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine of not more than two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) per violation, or imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.

2. Nebraska: No one’s gonna put a ring on your diseased ass.

42-102. Minimum age; affliction with venereal disease, disqualification.

[…] No person who is afflicted with a venereal disease shall marry in this state.

3. South Carolina: Decision-maker in a church? Then I hope it has never even crossed your mind to spend money set aside for the cemetery on anything other than that cemetery.

SECTION 16-13-460. Church to separate and use money only for cemetery maintenance when so designated; penalties.

Any church which receives money specifically designated for the maintenance of a cemetery on its property shall account for the money separately, and it may be used only for the maintenance of the cemetery. Any person […] who knowingly approves or permits the use of the fund for any other purpose is guilty of a misdemeanor […]

4. New York: If you’re the mayor of a New York village, do not even think about removing remains from an abandoned cemetery unless you’re moving them to a different cemetery in the same county.

§15-1508 Abandonment of cemeteries. a. Petition for removal of remains. The mayor of any village may submit a verified petition to a judge of a court of record seeking an order directing the removal of the remains of any deceased person or persons buried in a potter’s field or any neglected or abandoned cemetery owned by the village […] directing their reinterment in a properly kept cemetery in the same county.

5. Oklahoma: Don’t accuse a women of unchastity.

Bundesarchiv, Bild 101II-MW-1019-16 / Dietrich /__username__ / Via commons.wikimedia.org

§21‑779. Imputing unchastity to females ‑ Penalty.
If any person shall orally or otherwise, falsely and maliciously or falsely and wantonly impute to any female, married or unmarried, a want of chastity, he shall be deemed guilty of slander, and upon conviction shall be fined not less than Twenty‑five Dollars ($25.00) nor more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), or by imprisonment in the county jail not less than thirty (30) days nor more than ninety (90) days, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

6. New Hampshire: Live free or die, and while you’re at it, keep your damn dog inside your damn car.

Wolfgang Rattay / Reuters

644:8-f Transporting Dogs in Pickup Trucks. –
I. No person driving a pickup truck shall transport any dog in the back of the vehicle on a public way, unless the space is enclosed or has side and tail racks to a height of at least 46 inches extending vertically from the floor, the dog is cross tethered to the vehicle, the dog is protected by a secured container or cage, or the dog is otherwise protected, in a manner which will prevent the dog from being thrown or from falling or jumping from the vehicle.

7. Mississippi: Try not to be known as a tramp or stroll around in idleness or loaf around steamboat landings. You could get in trouble for that.

§97-35-37. Vagrants; defined

The following persons are and shall be punished as vagrants, viz.:

(a) Persons known as tramps, wandering or strolling about in idleness, who are able to work and have no property to support them. […]

(d) All able-bodied persons who habitually loaf, loiter and idle in the cities, towns, and villages, or about steamboat landings or railroad stations or any other public place in the state, for the larger portion of their time, without any regular employment and without any visible means of support. […]

8. Missouri: NOT THE PLACE TO TAKE YOUR IMPROPERLY LABELED MATTRESS; better luck in some other state, fraudsters. And don’t take off your mattress tags. Ever.

Jeffrey M. Vinocur / Via commons.wikimedia.org

Bedding labels, content—removal of label prohibited—false or misleading labeling prohibited.

421.007. 1. All bedding manufactured, renovated, sanitized or sold within the state shall bear a clear and conspicuous label that explicitly states whether the bedding is made from all new materials, or is made in whole or in part from secondhand materials. The label on bedding made from all new materials shall be white in color and shall state “ALL NEW MATERIAL” and the label on bedding made in whole, or in part, from secondhand materials shall be yellow in color and shall state “SECONDHAND MATERIALS”. […]

3. Labels required by sections 421.005 to 421.038 shall be permanently affixed.

9. Florida: If you are an adulterer, you’d best keep that on the DL.

798.01 Living in open adultery.—Whoever lives in an open state of adultery shall be guilty of a misdemeanor […]

10. Alabama: Put that collar away if you’re not a real priest.

Section 13A-14-4
Fraudulently pretending to be clergyman.

Whoever, being in a public place, fraudulently pretends by garb or outward array to be a minister of any religion, or nun, priest, rabbi or other member of the clergy, is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $500.00 or confinement in the county jail for not more than one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

11. Georgia: Llama professional? Do not forget to post a warning sign about the danger of your llamas.

§4-12-5. Warning signs or notices posted by llama activity sponsors or llama professionals

(a) Every llama professional and every llama activity sponsor shall post and maintain signs which contain the warning notice specified in subsection (b) of this Code section. Such signs shall be placed in a clearly visible location on or near stables, corrals, pens, or arenas where the llama professional or the llama activity sponsor conducts llama activities. The warning notice specified in subsection (b) of this Code section shall appear on the sign in black letters, with each letter to be a minimum of one inch in height. […]

12. New Mexico: Attempting to transport a goat carcass over state borders? Nice try — not without your certificate of inspection you’re not.

Jeff Chiu / AP

77-9-41. Transportation of horses, mules, asses, cattle, sheep or goats or carcasses thereof; inspection certificate.
It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to move, transport or cause to be transported from the state of New Mexico to any point beyond the limits thereof or within the state […] any horses, mules, asses, cattle, sheep or goats, or the carcasses thereof, by driving or in any motor or other vehicle or conveyance, unless such animal, animals or carcasses shall first have been inspected by an inspector of the New Mexico livestock board and unless […] said inspector shall have issued inspection certificates […]

13. North Carolina: Don’t try to do illegal things in secret, y’all. Secret handshakes are not allowed for criminal purposes.

Jacquelyn Martin, Pool / AP

§14‑12.4. Use of signs, grips, passwords or disguises or taking or administering oath for illegal purposes.

It shall be unlawful for any person to use, agree to use, or to encourage, aid or assist in the using of any signs, grips, passwords, disguise of the face, person or voice, or any disguise whatsoever in the furtherance of any illegal secret political purpose, any illegal secret military purpose, or any purpose of violating or circumventing the laws of the State […]

14. Montana: Greedy hunters, keep out.

Bas Lammers / Via commons.wikimedia.org

87-2-702. Restrictions on special licenses — availability of bear and mountain lion licenses. (1) A person who has killed or taken any game animal, except a deer, an elk, or an antelope, during the current license year is not permitted to receive a special license under this chapter to hunt or kill a second game animal of the same species.

15. Maryland: The long arm of the law will get all up in your business.

Jason Rogers / Via Flickr: restlessglobetrotter

§3–321. Sodomy.
A person who is convicted of sodomy is guilty of a felony and is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 10 years.

16. Delaware: Do not commit bigamy unless you are really, super convinced your previous spouse is dead.

Jeff Belmonte / Via commons.wikimedia.org

§1002. Bigamy; defenses.

In any prosecution for bigamy it is a defense that, at the time of the allegedly bigamous marriage:

(1) The accused believed, after diligent inquiry, that the prior spouse was dead […]

17. Wisconsin: Catnapping is expressly forbidden.

Courtesy Bob Walker / AP

951.03 Dognapping and catnapping. No person may take the dog or cat of another from one place to another without the owner’s consent […]

18. West Virginia: Don’t try to sell your foreign-made American flags to the government, because the government isn’t buying.

ARTICLE 6. STATE PURCHASE OF AMERICAN-MADE FLAGS.
§1-6-1. Purchasing requirements.

Any United States flag or flag of the State of West Virginia purchased with state funds must be manufactured in the United States.

19. Wyoming: No rustling. That means no rounding up and stealing horses, cattle, or sheep, for those of you who don’t use words like “rustling.”

U.S. Department of Agriculture / Via commons.wikimedia.org

6-3-413. Rustling; penalty.
A person who knowingly takes or exercises unlawful control over or makes an unauthorized transfer of an interest in any horse, mule, sheep, cattle, buffalo or swine with the purpose of depriving the lawful owner or possessor of the same is guilty of livestock rustling. Livestock rustling is a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than ten (10) years, a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00), or both.

20. North Dakota: No cloning humans.

Zephyris / Via en.wikipedia.org

12.1-39-02. Human cloning - Prohibition - Penalty.
1. A person may not intentionally or knowingly:
a. Perform or attempt to perform human cloning […]

21. Ohio: You absolutely may not spit on anyone while riding public transportation.

Johnny Knight Photo / Via en.wikipedia.org

2917.41 Misconduct involving public transportation system.

[…] © No person shall do any of the following while in any facility or on any vehicle of a public transportation system: […]

(3) Expectorate upon a person, facility, or vehicle.

22. Maine: You can’t claim “but we were hunting” as an excuse for assaulting someone. So much for the perfect crime.

Handout image via Wichita Eagle/__username__

§208-A. Assault while hunting
1. A person is guilty of assault while hunting if, while in the pursuit of wild game or game birds, he, with criminal negligence, causes bodily injury to another with the use of a dangerous weapon. […]
2. Assault while hunting is a Class D crime.

23. Louisiana: Do. Not. Steal. Crawfish.

§67.5. Theft of crawfish; penalty

A. Theft of crawfish is the misappropriation or taking of crawfish belonging to another or proceeds derived from the sale of such crawfish, whether done without the consent of the owner to the misappropriation or taking, or by means of fraudulent conduct, practices, or representations, with the intent to deprive the owner permanently of the crawfish, or proceeds derived from the sale of the crawfish.

B.(1) Whoever commits the crime of theft of crawfish when the misappropriation or taking amounts to a value of one thousand five hundred dollars or more shall be imprisoned, with or without hard labor, for not more than ten years or may be fined not more than three thousand dollars, or both.

(2) When the misappropriation or taking amounts to a value of five hundred dollars or more, but less than a value of one thousand five hundred dollars, the offender shall be imprisoned, with or without hard labor, for not more than five years or may be fined not more than two thousand dollars, or both.

(3) When the misappropriation or taking amounts to less than a value of five hundred dollars, the offender shall be imprisoned for not more than six months or may be fined not more than five hundred dollars, or both. If the offender in such cases has been convicted of theft of crawfish one or more times previously, upon any subsequent conviction he shall be imprisoned, with or without hard labor, for not more than ten years or may be fined not more than three thousand dollars, or both.

24. Oregon: You can commit a crime just by driving on the highway with too much hay. You’ve been warned.

Fir0002/__username__ / Via commons.wikimedia.org

164.815 Unlawfully transporting hay. (1) A person commits the crime of unlawfully transporting hay if the person knowingly transports more than 20 bales of hay on a public highway without having in possession a transportation certificate signed by the producer or the agent of the producer showing:

(a) The amount of hay in possession and the date of acquisition of it;

(b) The price paid or agreed to be paid for the hay or other terms of the transportation or sale contract;

© The location where the hay was loaded and its destination;

(d) The total number of bales or other units and the method of bailing or packaging; and

(e) The type of hay. […]

(4) Unlawfully transporting hay is a Class C misdemeanor.

25. Tennessee: Do not weaponize your snakes.

Themba Hadebe / AP

39-17-101. Handling snakes so as to endanger life prohibited.

(a) It is an offense for a person to display, exhibit, handle, or use a poisonous or dangerous snake or reptile in a manner that endangers the life or health of any person.

(b) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

26. Washington: Your clover-orange-blossom honey will NOT masquerade as a single-flower-source honey.

John Severns / Via commons.wikimedia.org

69.28.120
Floral source labels.

Any honey which is a blend of two or more floral types of honey shall not be labeled as a honey product from any one particular floral source alone.

27. Pennsylvania: Never discharge your paintball gun outside of an explicit paintball context.

§2707.2. Paintball guns and paintball markers. […]
(a.1) Unlawful discharge of paintball gun or paintball marker.—An individual may not discharge or fire a paintball gun or paintball marker at a person who is not participating in paintball games or paintball-related recreational activities.
(b) Penalty.—A person who violates this section commits a summary offense.

28. Nevada: How many times does Nevada have to tell you not to leave the gate open?

Billy Hathorn / Via commons.wikimedia.org

NRS 207.220 Penalty for not closing gates.

1. Any person or persons opening and passing through gates or bars when gates or bars are placed in fences enclosing fields, or in fences partly enclosing lands, and not shutting and fastening the same, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor.

29. New Jersey: Fraternities and sororities, your pledging procedures have to follow the standards set by the state attorney general. Rho is me, amirite, guys?

18A:3-25. Pledge’s Bill of Rights
2. The Attorney General shall develop a “Pledge’s Bill of Rights” which outlines acceptable and unacceptable behavior and activities in regard to the pledge or rushing activities of college and university fraternities and sororities and other similar campus organizations. […]

30. Alaska: If you forgot to renew the brand you used on your livestock, the joke’s on you.

Sec. 03.40.030. Recording. (a) To adopt a brand or mark, a person shall forward to the commissioner of natural resources a facsimile of the brand or mark, together with a written application, and the recording fee of $2. […]

(b) […] A renewal period occurs every five years, beginning with January 1, 1960. […] if an owner fails, refuses, or neglects to pay the renewal fee by March 1, of the renewal year, the brand or mark is forfeited and becomes available for issuance to another applicant.

31. Rhode Island: Keep your use of grocery carts, laundry carts, milk cases, egg baskets, and bakery containers on the straight and narrow.

Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

§11-41.1-3 Illegal use of shopping carts, laundry carts, dairy cases, dispenser cases, egg baskets, bakery containers, poultry boxes, or plastic bulk merchandise containers. – No person, firm, corporation, or association other than the registered owner of the name or mark shall use for any purpose any container which is identified with or by any name or mark registered with the secretary of state as provided by § 11-41.1-2. […]

32. Arkansas: Don’t pretend to win the lottery!

Danny Johnston / AP

5-55-501. Lottery fraud.

[…] (b) A person commits the offense of lottery fraud if he or she:

(1) Falsely makes, alters, forges, utters, passes, or counterfeits a ticket or share in a lottery with a purpose to defraud the Arkansas Lottery Commission; or

(2) Purposely influences the winning of a lottery prize through the use of coercion, fraud, deception, or tampering with lottery equipment or materials.

© A violation of this section is a Class D felony. […]

33. Colorado: No dueling whatsoever.

18-13-104. Fighting by agreement - dueling

(1) If two or more persons shall fight by agreement in a public place, except in a sporting event authorized by law, the persons so fighting commit a class 1 petty offense.

(2) Persons who by agreement engage in a fight with deadly weapons, whether in a public or private place, commit dueling, which is a class 4 felony.

34. Hawaii: If you want to commit fraud, don’t think you can get away with it by being a telemarketer.

Ina Fassbender / Reuters

[§708-835.6] Telemarketing fraud. […]
(2) Telemarketing fraud is a class B felony. […]

35. Kentucky: Sunday’s the day of rest, people, so either rest up or pay the price.

436.160 Working on Sunday — Work of necessity or charity, athletic games and certain businesses and employers excluded — Penalty.

(1) Any person who works on Sunday at his own or at any other occupation or employs any other person, in labor or other business, whether for profit or amusement […] shall be fined not less than two dollars ($2) nor more than fifty dollars ($50). The employment of every person employed in violation of this subsection shall be deemed a separate offense.

36. Kansas: Keep your illegal bingo operation the hell out of this state.

Michael Cote / Via commons.wikimedia.org

21-6405. Illegal bingo operation. (a) Illegal bingo operation is the knowing management, operation or conduct of games of bingo in violation of the laws of the state of Kansas pertaining to the regulation, licensing and taxing of games of bingo or rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto.

(b) Illegal bingo operation is a class A nonperson misdemeanor.

37. Iowa: Owners of dangerous wild animals have to jump through some hoops in order to keep their dangerous wild animals. So dust off that sign warning people you have a dangerous wild animal.

Hafiz Issadeen / Via commons.wikimedia.org

717F.4 Owning or possessing dangerous wild animals on July 1, 2007. […]
8. The person must display at least one sign on the person’s premises where the dangerous wild animal is kept warning the public that the dangerous wild animal is confined there. The sign must include a symbol warning children of the presence of the dangerous wild animal.

38. Idaho: Think you can burn an American flag and get away with it? Not in Idaho, friend.

18-3401. Public mutilation of flag. Any person who publicly mutilates, defaces, or tramples upon or burns, with intent to insult, the flag, standard, colors or ensign of the United States or of the state of Idaho shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

39. South Dakota: You can’t even trample the flag.

22-9-1. Desecration of flag. Any person who knowingly mutilates, defaces, physically defiles, burns, maintains on the floor or ground, or tramples upon any flag of the United States or flag of the State of South Dakota is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

40. Indiana: Glue-sniffers, go home.

IC 35-46-6-2 Inhaling toxic vapors
Sec. 2. A person who, with intent to cause a condition of intoxication, euphoria, excitement, exhilaration, stupefaction, or dulling of the senses, ingests or inhales the fumes of:
(1) model glue […]
commits inhaling toxic vapors, a Class B misdemeanor.

41. Illinois: No fornicating.

Sec. 11-40. Fornication.
(a) A person commits fornication when he or she knowingly has sexual intercourse with another not his or her spouse if the behavior is open and notorious. […]
(b) Sentence.
Fornication is a Class B misdemeanor.

42. Michigan: Cuss, and they’ll do more than wash your filthy mouth out with soap.

750.103 Cursing and swearing.

Sec. 103.

Cursing and swearing—Any person who has arrived at the age of discretion, who shall profanely curse or damn or swear by the name of God, Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. […]

43. Vermont: Don’t disguise your horse.

Alan Crowhurst / Getty Images

§2013. Painting or disguising horses

A person who knowingly and designedly for the purpose of competing for a purse or premium offered by an agricultural society, corporation or association within the state, enters or drives a horse or horse kind painted or disguised, or who for such purpose falsely and fraudulently represents a horse to be another from what it really is, or who for such purpose knowingly or designedly enters or drives a horse or horse kind in a class in which it is not entitled to be entered under the rules of such society, corporation or association, shall be imprisoned not more than six months or fined not more than $500.00, or both.

44. Virginia: Just leave the homing pigeons alone.

Andreas Trepte / Via commons.wikimedia.org

§18.2-145. Protection of homing pigeons.

It shall be unlawful for any person at any time or in any manner to hunt, pursue, take, capture, wound, maim, disfigure, or kill any homing pigeon of another person, or to make use of any pit or pitfall, scaffold, cage, snare, trap, net, baited hook or similar device or drug, poison chemical or explosive, for the purpose of injuring, capturing or killing any such homing pigeon […]

Any person violating any of the foregoing provisions shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.

45. Minnesota: Do not mess with anyone’s wood.

Aapo Haapanen / Via commons.wikimedia.org

609.591 DAMAGE TO TIMBER OR WOOD PROCESSING AND RELATED EQUIPMENT.

Subdivision 1. Definition.
[…] “timber” means trees, whether standing or down, that will produce forest products of value including but not limited to logs, posts, poles, bolts, pulpwood, cordwood, lumber, and decorative material.
Subd. 2.Crime.

Whoever, without claim of right or consent of the owner, drives, places, or fastens in timber any device of iron, steel, ceramic, or other substance sufficiently hard to damage saws or wood processing or manufacturing equipment, with the intent to hinder the logging or the processing of timber, is guilty of a crime and may be sentenced as provided in subdivisions 3 and 4.

46. Arizona: Register your farm on the register of heritage agriculture and you’d better have at least one house, barn, shed, crib, granary, silo, windmill or fence that is at least twenty-five years old. Or else.

Andrew Smith / Via commons.wikimedia.org

3-162. Arizona register of heritage agriculture; qualifying criteria; definition […]
2. The property must include at least one house, barn, shed, crib, granary, silo, windmill or fence that is at least twenty-five years old. […]

47. Connecticut: Don’t cheat at cards.

Enoch Lau / Via commons.wikimedia.org

Sec. 53a-127d. Cheating: Class D felony or class B misdemeanor. (a) A person is guilty of cheating when, in the course of playing or conducting any lawful gambling game, he: (1) Knowingly uses an altered or counterfeit chip, token, tile, pull tab, wagering slip or check or knowingly marks, loads or tampers with any cards or dice or substitutes for cards or dice provided by the operator of a lawfully operated game of chance any cards or dice that have been marked, loaded or tampered with; or (2) knowingly uses any device, instrument, article or substance with intent to cheat or defraud or to alter or affect the otherwise random results of any lawfully operated game of chance […]

48. Massachussetts: Headphones were invented for a reason, people. Use them on public transportation or fly in the face of both common decency and law.

Section 42. Whoever uses a radio or boom box, so-called, or similar broadcasting equipment without the use of earphones or other apparatus on a public conveyance used for the common carriage of persons, shall be punished by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars nor more than five hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one month. Evidence seized pursuant to this section shall be sold at public auction […]

49. Utah: No throwing your feces.

D Sharon Pruitt / Via commons.wikimedia.org

76-5-102.9. Propelling a bodily substance — Penalties.

(1) As used in this section, a listed substance or material is:

(a) saliva, blood, urine, or fecal material […]

(2) Any person who knowingly or intentionally throws or otherwise propels any bodily substance or material listed under Subsection (1) at another person is guilty of a class B misdemeanor, except as provided in Subsection (3).

50. Texas: Don’t be gay.

Sec. 21.06. HOMOSEXUAL CONDUCT. (a) A person commits an offense if he engages in deviate sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex.

(b) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

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