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10 Things That Feel Illegal but Aren’t

by John Munoz
fact checked by Rachel Jones

Have you ever felt guilty for something? You might have thought it was illegal, but it 100% wasn’t. Sometimes we feel weird about our actions, but our surroundings and beliefs could be influencing those emotions. We often use the law to measure the legality of our actions. Before you freak out, let’s learn about things that might seem illegal but actually aren’t.

Here are the top ten things that might shock you when you do them, but they are not illegal in the United States.

Related: 10 Things You Can Legally Do If You Go To The Right Country

10 Baby Walkers Are Trouble

Are baby walkers safe? Are Baby Walkers Good? (The Answer will Surprise You!)

Baby walkers are adorable toys that are good for a child’s growth. They help infants stand upright and walk by fluttering their tiny feet on the floor. But did you know that other nations have banned them? They believe they can impair an infant’s physical and mental development. Others may see baby walkers as giving infants mobility beyond their age-appropriate abilities. But they can also prevent infants from learning essential skills like crawling, as it’s the first step to learning how to walk.

Another reason that baby walkers are potentially dangerous is that they allow children to get into hazardous situations. They could fall from the top of the stairs or wander outside. The dangers associated are what make you feel that these are illegal. Still, baby walkers are allowed in the United States, and most parents unknowingly enjoy them.

9 Don’t be Embarrassed to Window Shop

Leaving the Store Without Buying Something

It feels weird to walk into a store, browse the products on sale, then leave without buying anything. It might sound normal to some people, but others find it unbearable. Is this illegal? Does it break any laws? Consider your freedom of choice. There are many reasons one might change their mind after entering a store, such as:

  • The prices may be too high for your budget.
  • The item you needed is out of stock.
  • You may simply change your mind and decide you don’t need the product you came for.
  • Window shopping is totally normal.

It isn’t illegal to leave any store without making a purchase. Furthermore, no law requires customers to make purchases. In fact, a common strategy for customer retention among store owners and employees is to always treat the customer with kindness and respect, regardless of their purchases—or lack thereof. So there’s no need to worry. Think of the alternative—what kind of world would it be if we were forced to spend our hard-earned money just because we entered a building?

If you feel guilty about leaving a store without a purchase, it’s not because it’s illegal—it’s because of your perception. Take your time at any store, and don’t feel obligated to buy anything for any reason.

8 Can You Pass a Police Car in Traffic?

Ask Trooper Steve: Can I pass a police car?

I have always believed that police cars are allowed to go 20 mph above the speed limit at all times. With this perception, you may feel guilty each time you pass a police car with a speed below this limit. You begin to ask yourself, are you waiting to pull someone over? On many occasions, police cars are seen moving at low speeds when they patrol an area. With this in mind, you may wonder if you are breaching road safety regulations.

No need to worry. Passing a police car while both are moving under the speed limit is completely legal, though it may be a good idea not to go too fast. What could be worse, driving at a high or a low speed? If you understand road safety and regulations, driving at a low speed is the first step to protecting lives.

So, are you supposed to be scared if you find yourself in this situation? No, you’re alright, so long as you are not violating any laws or safety regulations.

7 Bringing Your Own Food to a Restaurant

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It may not feel right to make yourself comfortable in other people’s restaurants when you have your food purchased from other shops. Restaurants operate on competitive terms where each one of them intends to make a profit. The main products sold in a restaurant are food and atmosphere. When you carry your food to go and occupy a space reserved for a potential client, it makes you feel like a criminal.

But it isn’t a crime and cannot be classified as illegal. We all have different tastes, and you may prefer to carry complimentary food items, such as drinks from a hotel room, into a space where you can enjoy them. Sometimes, the restaurant may not even offer food that you enjoy or options for certain dietary restrictions.

It’s also not a crime to reserve a table and bring your own food to it. What matters is that you have paid for one of the services offered. You are still doing business with the restaurant and not using its facilities for free.

6 Airport Security Is Legally Crossing the Line

Why Airport Security Is So Bad In The U.S.

Airports are tightly secured. When you’re not used to their security protocols, it can be irritating to go through them. Some of their more invasive procedures make you feel like a criminal—don’t even get me started on strip-searching. They make you stressed out that they’ll find illicit contraband you didn’t even know was there.

However, there is no way that passing through airport security is illegal. The security protocol is just a formality, as the security officers are obligated to provide safety measures. Feeling scared is normal, but not everything that scares you is illegal.

5 Surgeons are Allowed to Work Without Sleep

What Happens To Your Body And Brain If You Don’t Get Sleep | The Human Body

The importance of a good night’s sleep has everything to do with the performance of a particular task. When it comes to performing surgery, accuracy becomes more vital. Surgery puts a person’s life at stake, and the pressure is on. Professionals suggest that lack of a good night’s sleep deprives or impairs cognitive performance and motor skills.

How illegal can it be to perform surgery without a good night’s sleep? Strangely, no law in the United States demands that a surgeon has a good night’s sleep before performing surgery. Instead, the duty of care is solely on the surgeon’s shoulders.

4 Recording a Conversation

Can You Secretly Record a Conversation?

Recording someone in a conversation sounds like tampering with their privacy and the confidentiality of the information you share. Sometimes people share with you because of the trust they have in you and don’t wish to feel betrayed. You may wonder what the consequences would be if you recorded someone. Because of what we understand about the confidentiality of the information, it can feel illegal to record someone.

However, you may not worry anymore once you learn that many states recognize one-party consent, which legally allows you to record a conversation. The majority of the United States of America has one-party consent.

However, some states do not allow one-party consent:

  • Florida
  • California
  • Delaware
  • Montana
  • Illinois
  • New Hampshire
  • Pennsylvania
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Washington

Recording a conversation can reduce theft and other criminal actions. It can serve as the main piece of evidence for a crime. Even though others have different views, recording a conversation has seen many people gather valid evidence used in court. If you feel you are recording a heated conversation that could threaten the lives of others, don’t hesitate to record it clearly and forward it to the authorities. It would help if you did it without any worries.

3 Buying Condoms Feels Illegal

Frank Q&A – Is there still stigma in buying condoms?

People tend to be shy about purchasing condoms, as it feels like a perverted or criminal act. When one acts that way at the counter, the business owner or employee may find it suspicious and assume they’re criminals finding a way to steal. But the worst feeling is when you feel that publicly asking for condoms is illegal.

No law in the United States criminalizes the use of condoms. This is part of contraception recommended by experts for disease prevention and protection from unwanted pregnancies.

2 Requesting a Reasonable Accommodation

Reasonable Accommodations & Modifications in Housing

People living with a disability deserve compassion. You may feel like it’s a crime to ask your landlord or apartment manager to help you as a disabled person, but there are laws in place that obligate them to give you at least a reasonable amount of help or modifications.

It’s common for disabled people to feel guilty for reaching out and asking for help. These requests can be expensive and single you out in your community. But guilt does not mean it’s a crime—there is also no law suggesting it’s illegal to ask for help.

In the United States, you should be able to have equal use and enjoyment of your home. It’s your legal right! So if your landlord refuses to provide a reasonable modification or treats you like a criminal for asking, you might want to call a fair housing attorney.

1 Marrying Your Cousin Is Not a Crime

Is it really that bad to marry my cousin? | Am I Normal? with Mona Chalabi

We’ve all likely heard of the phrase “kissing cousins.” Traditionally, it was not uncommon for cousins to marry (heck, royal families have been doing it for millennia). But you may be surprised to learn of some other noteworthy and non-royal people who have married their cousins. Charles Darwin married his first cousin, Emma Wedgewood, as did Albert Einstein when he married his second wife, Elsa Löwenthal née Einstein. Others include writers H.G. Wells and Edgar Allan Poe and actress Greta Scacchi.

Although some view it with a negative stigma, the fact is you can marry your cousin in every state in the United States. The only issue is which cousin. Many ban first- and second-cousin marriage outright. But at least 25 states go so far as to allow you to marry your first cousin, which is your aunt or uncle’s child. That being said, some states permit marriage between first cousins only under certain circumstances (as in Arizona, where the couple must be over 65 years of age) or in West Virginia, where only adopted first cousins are allowed to wed). So if this is your cup of tea, then you shouldn’t feel guilty that you are breaking the law by marrying your cousin—even if many consider the practice taboo.

fact checked by Rachel Jones