You think of yourself as a law-abiding citizen. You never knowingly break the law. You do not mind the rules. You are respectful to police officers. When you read about other people getting arrested, you just shake your head, unable to believe it.
Many people feel this way, but some experts believe the feeling is not really accurate. One study claims that the average American accidentally and often unknowingly violates federal law three times every single day. Getting arrested for any of those infractions, even if you did not know that what you did was wrong, could lead to felony charges.
Remember that the next time you feel disbelief that someone broke the law. It could be that the only difference between you and them is that they got caught.
Why does this happen? Many blame the overall expansion of federal law. While laws are infrequently taken off of the books, they are added every year. At this point, there are thousands of potential felonies that you could commit. It’s always going up. While you know about the big ones — assault, murder, theft, etc — it is impossible for most people to really memorize thousands of laws.
The sheer number, and the way that the courts can interpret those laws, means you could almost constantly be in violation. Even if the projection is way off and you do not commit three felonies a day, what if you still commit one? That’s far fewer, but it’s still more than enough to put you behind bars. If you do get arrested, make sure you know all of your legal defense options.