5 Crimes That Can Result in Jail Time
When people think about the consequences of committing a crime, the first thing that usually comes to their minds is going to prison. Jail takes you away from your family and friends, and it limits the freedom of living a fulfilling life. It is one of society’s only true deterrents to doing something illegal.
We aren’t here to judge the merits of the ethics of the prison system, though. This is more about the poor decisions people make on a daily basis that can lead to going to jail. Even small crimes people don’t think have many consequences can result in being locked up and paying heavy fines.
Can you go to jail for not having car insurance? What about littering on someone’s private property? We’ll discuss these decisions and a couple of others that may or may not bring about a sentence behind bars.
#1 – Littering
Folks often make fun of littering as a crime. “What did you do to get pulled over? Litter?” This is unfortunate because littering laws are in place to protect our environment. Dumping creates a world that will not be habitable for future generations. Garbage does not belong on the street, and recycling programs are more prevalent than ever to clean up the mess.
Most of the time it is hard for the authorities to catch someone littering. Unless it is reported the perpetrator has been illegally dumping on private property, and the evidence is clear to see, littering goes unpunished. This doesn’t mean there can’t be outstanding cases, though.
Most states will fine you for littering and make you do community service for a set number of hours. Prison time would only come for avoiding the original punishment, or for more severe cases. Dumping toxic chemicals in a body of water is one such example. Other instances would be putting your trash in a big industrial waste bin outside of businesses and strip malls.
#2 – Abusing Animals
Most people want to keep dogs safe. They want to snuggle up with their cats on the sofa after a long day at work. Unfortunately, others may take out their anger and struggles in life on their innocent animals. These could be pets they own or other animals they find astray. The rules against animal abuse are very strict in certain areas, and they certainly can land you in prison.
The intent of the abuse is going to factor into the prison sentence you get. Negligence when taking care of your animal could result in prison time, but not as much as premeditated abuse of an animal.
Dogfighting rings are a prime example of this torture, and NFL star Michael Vick brought this subject public when he went to federal prison for two years for running one in the 2000s.
The PACT Act (Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture), signed in 2019, makes many animal abuse crimes a felony. Dogfighting is one of them.
#3 – Insider Trading
Many celebrities have gone to prison for insider trading, bringing the subject to the forefront of pop culture the way Vick did for dogfighting. Martha Stewart is the biggest example in recent memory.
The conviction for insider trading occurs when there is evidence that someone sold stocks or investments by getting inside information about a company’s financial state that is unknown to the public.
This is an important thing to think about if you have information about the stock market that is not publically known. Be careful about the decisions you make with this knowledge, as it could land you in prison for up to 20 years. There are other ways to get your finances under control legally than trading stocks not accessible to the general public.
#4 – Tweeting About the President
You have freedom of speech in the U.S. to say what you want about government officials. Something you never want to do is threaten to harm the president or other officials in public office. Name-calling and frustration are fine, but you might find the Secret Service on your door if they think you are actually a threat to someone in the government.
Most prison sentences are going to be short for this felony unless there is proof there was an actual plan to kill the president. Most threats online are harmless, and therefore in the heat of the moment. The ability to speak freely online has made this an even more important issue in the 2020s. Be careful what you say, or you just might end up in jail.
#5 – Not Having Auto Insurance
It is legally required to have auto insurance in most states in the U.S., especially if you are financing your vehicle. Driving without insurance will usually result in heavy fines or a suspension of your license. Prison time is the last resort for punishment and is not usually considered in most situations.
North Carolina is the only state in the country that considers not having insurance a Class 2 misdemeanor. This means if you are a repeat offender of not having auto insurance, you will likely go to prison for some length of time. Other states consider a lack of insurance a misdemeanor, but not in the Class 2 category. Prison time is less likely because of this.
Most people will pay for auto insurance after the first offense or at least before a potential prison sentence is in the picture. Heavy fines are enacted before anything else. These are usually the result of getting pulled over for another offense, like speeding or driving without a taillight. Police may also see you don’t have insurance after getting into a car accident.
The best way to avoid getting in trouble for not having insurance is to drive safely and follow the rules of the road. Buying auto insurance is an expensive purchase. Getting good rates is possible, though, if you make the effort to be a great driver. Talk to your agent about how you can find discounts, from apps installed to track your habits to taking a driver’s ed course.
Hopefully, you have learned a little bit more about crimes that don’t get talked about very much. It is important to be knowledgeable about prison sentences and how to avoid them for all types of crimes, even the lesser-known ones.
Shawn Laib writes and researches for the car insurance site, CarInsuranceComparison.com. He wants to help people learn about the consequences of not having auto insurance.