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Lawyers Share The Wildest Loopholes They've Seen People Use In Court

Reddit user Meme_Collector_GG asked: 'Lawyers of Reddit, what's the wildest loophole you've seen exploited in a courtroom that succeeded?'

'Defendant' placecard in a courtroom
Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash

We've all heard of loopholes, and many of us secretly delight in the deliciousness of a particularly clever twist.

When it comes to legal loopholes, we may have read or watched some interesting loopholes in a particularly good book or film, but it's hard to imagine these loopholes being effective in real life.

But some lawyers on Reddit are here to assure us that sometimes these loopholes really work.

Curious, Redditor Meme_Collector_GG asked:

"Lawyers of Reddit, what's the wildest loophole you've seen exploited in a courtroom that succeeded?"

Parking Allotments

"I racked up parking tickets in law school, only to find out that the district had changed but the signs were never removed. The street behind the school was in a different district-one with no time limit on parking. The neighbors didn’t want students parking for hours on end, so they treated it as de facto timed parking."

"I defeated the tickets but only after the contentious hearing where the hearing office asked me why I thought it was okay to park wherever I wanted despite the signs. I said the signs don’t matter if they’re not legal and he said enforcement (meter maids) go by the signs, not the map."

"I asked if I could just put up signs wherever I wanted to not have people park and they would enforce it?"

"He didn’t have an answer for that one…"

"It really bothered me that the school made a big deal about getting a dispensation on parking time during exams because the exams were an hour longer than you could park."

- nolalaw9781

The Importance of Up-to-Date Records

"Wasn't there that drug dealer in Ireland in like 2015 who appealed his conviction on the basis of the drug laws being unconstitutional... and won? Thus making drugs legal in Ireland for a day while they scrambled to fix the oopsie?"

"Basically, he argued that their Misuse of Drugs Act required them to get parliamentary approval to add new drugs to the list of banned drugs... whiiiiich they had been neglecting to do for a few decades."

"The courts went, '...Well, f**k,' and ruled most of the list unconstitutional."

"That's an absolute corker to pull out of the back pocket no mistake."

- Alternative_Boat9540

Saved By the Technicality!

"I got in a no-injury car accident, and I gave the cops my insurance, which had both my name and my dad's name. I'm a male with a name that is normally a female's name."

"The cop wrote the ticket to my dad because he assumed who I was by the names on the insurance."

"When I went to court to pay the fine, the judge told me I couldn't represent my dad. When I explained that he was living very far away from the accident and I was the driver, the judge said, 'Well, you have no ticket, and your dad obviously wasn't the driver, so case dismissed.'"

- ShowMeUrPitties10woof

Speed Limits Are Relative

"I'm not a lawyer, but this was a fun one to watch:"

"Someone received a speeding ticket on Main Street in Ann Arbor. He proves that 85% of drivers on that road drive faster than the speed limit and argues that the limit was improperly set under Michigan's anti-speed trap law."

"The judge agreed and the ticket was thrown out."

"If everyone speeds, nobody does!"

- chriswaco

The Warrant Did Not Have Pockets

"I got the physical evidence (a bag of drugs) thrown out because the officer reached into my client's pocket before patting the outside first. Because of the fourth amendment, he didn't have reasonable cause to check his clothes because of not patting him down first; he solely made an assumption."

"Because that was the only evidence that my client committed a crime, the prosecutor was forced to dismiss the entire case."

- EmptySpace227

Unloaded vs. Loaded

"I heard of at least one case where the defendant was charged with carrying a loaded firearm without a license, but the count had to be dismissed because it turns out the dumby had loaded it with the wrong caliber bullet."

"The police lab tried repeatedly to get the gun to fire in the range using the defendant's bullets, but even they couldn't make it work. So technically the firearm didn't count as 'loaded' under the statute. It wasn't quite case dismissed, because there was a lesser charge that still applied to an unloaded firearm, but it was a much less severe charge."

"Not sure if that's a 'loophole,' but it's one of the funnier and more harmless get-out-of-jail-free cards I've seen."

- ScruffyB

The Loophole of Loopholes

"As people have said. ‘Loopholes’ are rare. But this story jumps to mind. Wouldn’t take much embellishment to make a dramatic tv moment."

"A convicted criminal was on furlough. A program with the jail where you can be released on an ankle monitor while still serving your sentence. He cut the monitor, ran, and was caught. He was indicted for Escape."

"The case got to trial and the prosecutor puts on a pretty straightforward case. people from the jail and ankle monitor company and arresting cops testify. Then the defense moved to dismiss. The prosecution has failed to prove escape."

"There was actually a different law called unlawful evasion that applied to escaping off furlough program. This was extra confusing because escape is the correct charge for cutting an ankle monitor if you are serving your sentence on an ankle monitor, which you can do sometimes. But if you start in jail and get out on an ankle monitor as part of a furlough program, then the crime is unlawful evasion."

"The prosecutor was furious. Because the defense could have dismissed the case at any point. Arraignment up to trial. But he never said anything. So the guy sat in jail for months awaiting trial on a charge he could get dismissed. The judge ordered the case dismissed."

"There was some small debate about whether he could be retried or not, because did double jeopardy attach if he was never actually charged with the right crime? But the DA wasn’t going to highlight the embarrassment and just let it go. A crime (and slam dunk case) with a 6+ year sentence dismissed for a few months in jail."

- Snuffleupagus03

"Why did the defense wait and have his client sit in jail? Was he making sure the embarrassment to the prosecutor was the maximum possible?"

- nearcatch

"I should have made that clear. If the case was dismissed before trial, the prosecutor could have easily fixed the mistake by reindicting the case. When the trial started, double jeopardy was attached and he couldn’t be tried again."

"That was the tactical reason by the defense and why the prosecutor was upset. He tried to argue to the judge that if the defense wanted to raise the issue they had to raise it as a motion to dismiss the indictment (which could be fixed) and not a motion for judgment of acquittal (which could not be fixed)."

- snuffleupagus03

Legal Fallacies At Play

"I am not a lawyer, but two examples come to mind."

"For a period of time in my state, if you got a speeding ticket, you could have a hearing and request the radar technician to testify that the equipment had been calibrated correctly. Given that there were only two technicians qualified in the state, they basically never showed up, and the ticket would get thrown out."

"For another, a local cop got charged for catching the wrong size fish, basically poaching. Since he lied to the game officer in his statement, all prior convictions that relied on his testimony became easy appeal cases."

- WrongTechnician

Actually Helpful

"Not me, but a professor I had, who specialized in advocacy for victims of human trafficking (basically, helping victims of trafficking avoid deportation)."

"A salon was raided in connection to a suspected human trafficking ring. The tip turned out to be good, multiple people were arrested, and several victims were taken into custody."

"Among them was a four-year-old boy. None of the victims knew him and said, 'He helped clean the salon.' Traffickers wouldn't fess up as to where he came from. The kid didn't know his own name, where he was from, where his parents were, or where they were."

"When the judge asked the kid for his name, he replied, 'Spiderman!' When they asked for his real name, he told them, 'Peter Parker!' Yeah, you get the idea.... anyway, the prosecution wanted him gone because he was in the US illegally. Not sure where the prosecution thought he'd get sent, but whatever."

"Now here's a neat thing... there's a federal statute on refugee eligibility. This particular statute hadn't been cited in over 60 years, but for all intents and purposes was still good law. The statute in question basically says, 'If a victim of human trafficking is an unaccompanied minor is under X age and does not know their country of origin, they are to be granted asylum immediately, no court discretion.'"

"Now I have to emphasize, this law hadn't been used in literal DECADES, and was effectively forgotten by courts and legislature as a past relic that somehow slipped through immigration reforms over the years. But it was still valid."

"My professor intended to cite this statute. The prosecutor was terrified of creating new case law, and offered to drop charges if this statute wouldn't get brought up. The professor agreed, because of the client's interests."

"In a strange twist of fate, the prosecutor died, and the newly assigned prosecutor said he would not honor any preexisting deals. Prof is like, "fine, let's make some case law!" New prosecutor panics and asks to go back to the original deal, which is accepted."

"I suppose it's not a loophole, but very interesting, in my opinion."

- Kent_Knifen

That's... Against Everything the 'X-Men' Stood For

" Marvel successfully argued that mutants are not people so X-men action figures get a cheaper tariff."

- NeedsToShutUp

"That uh... has some unfortunate implications."

- UbiquitousPanacea

"It was basically that mutants aren't 'humans' because of their X-genes in the same way cavemen aren't humans, not that they weren't people."

- RockingRobin

" Funny how that's exactly the opposite of the point X-men were supposed to represent."

- WhoTheH**Knows

"Toy Biz v. United States was a 2003 decision in the United States Court of International Trade that determined that for purposes of tariffs, Toy Biz's action figures were toys, not dolls, because they represented 'nonhuman creatures.' This decision effectively halved the tariff rate, from 12 percent tax to 6.8 percent."

- EngineerDave

"That's hilarious. Professor X would have strong words for everyone involved."

- Saphira9

The Law Is Law Is Law

"I’m a public defender and I got a DUI suppressed because the cop pulled my guy over for making a left turn out of a business driveway across a double yellow line. Which, it turns out, is legal."

"It was so satisfying. The DA ended their questioning of the cop."

"The judge looked at me and asked if I had any questions on cross."

"Nope. Judge rolls his eyes as if I’ve just wasted his time and asks for an argument."

"I pulled out three copies of the vehicle code statute. One for the judge, DA, and myself. It clearly permits one to turn as my client did."

"The DA tried to lie about what the cop actually said. I’m like, nope. It’s clear as day on the record."

"Motion granted, case dismissed."

- Aint-no-preacher

Rooting for a Man and His Dog

"Criminal defendants charged with stealing an item must be charged with stealing an item FROM someone. That someone must be a legal entity."

"I once represented a guy who was charged with stealing dog food. He was homeless and trying to feed his dog. Needless to say, I was sympathetic, so I was willing to pull something of a dirty trick for him."

"I queued him up for trial. As soon as the first witness was sworn in, I moved to dismiss."

"The entity he was charged with stealing from? 'Wal Mart.' That is not a legal entity. I think the real name was 'Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.' or something."

"Case immediately dismissed."

"And since a witness had been sworn in, double jeopardy prevented them from trying him again."

- Smaptastic

Deeply Rattled

"Not an attorney/courtroom story, but still a kind of legal loophole."

"I knew a guy that was drinking a beer while driving home one night. The conditions were snowy, and he slid off the road into the ditch."

"He called for assistance, and before the police and tow truck arrived, he got out and put the six-pack on the hood. He made sure they saw him take a drink from the open bottle while he was standing outside the car as they pulled up."

"He told them sliding off the road like he did shook him up and he decided to drink one of the beers to calm his nerves. They had no way to prove that he was drinking it while driving."

- BooksAreBetterThanTV

Can't Be Late For Something You Never Intended To Do

"Not a lawyer, but close to one. In law school in Finland, they were taught about a case where a man was on trial for failing to pay back a loan."

"His lawyer argued that he shouldn’t be convicted of delinquency (no idea what the actual terms are in English, bear with me) because he never had intended to pay the loan back in the first place."

"And he won the case."

"The reason was because the prosecutor had made a mistake: he had prosecuted the man only for the lesser charge of being delinquent in making payments, and forgot to write up the alternative charge of outright fraud."

"So the court had to rule that there was reasonable doubt whether the man actually committed the act he was on trial for."

- Worker_Ant_81730C

Just Hilarious

"Not a loophole, but a fun one just the same."

"The Defense witness destroyed my case. Destroyed it. I was going to lose."

"I had just one question: 'Didn't you offer to sell your testimony to my client?'"

"Answer: 'Yes, but we never came to an agreement.'"

"We settled in the hall after the Defense attorney quickly asked for a recess."

- jcarlosfox

It's wild to think of how much a simple language shift can change the meaning of a statement or law.

Always remember to be careful in how you phrase things or else you might find yourself in a loophole!