7 Felonies You’ve Probably Committed in Your Lifetime

Can we just say…”Whoops?”

Can we just say…”Whoops?”

With over 3,500 federal crimes on the books, there’s a good chance you’ve committed a few without even realizing it. And as we all know, when it comes to felonies, it’s not the size of the crime that counts, but the motion filed by the lawyer representing you. Unlike misdemeanors – whose perpetrators include cow tippers, “marijuana doers,” and anyone in Oregon who dares pump their own gas – felonies will guarantee you a prison stint with the likes of Charles Manson, Hannibal Lecter, and Martha Stewart’s extremely fragile soap holder. So to help out, we at Maxim have compiled a list of seven felonies you’ve probably committed, plus the free legal advice of an unemployed lawyer.

1. Messing With Your Friend’s Facebook Page

Photo: Alan Marsh / Getty Images | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013

The Crime: Federal Wire Fraud (18 U.S. Code §1343)

If you’ve ever returned to your open Facebook page to discover you’re “a huge a fan of Justin Bieber’s penis,” then congratulations: You’re a victim of wire fraud. On the upside, your prankster friend’s a class C felon. You can either wait for your friend to make the same mistake (by which time you’ll forget to return the prank), or take it like a man and report him to the feds. He’ll inevitably be convicted of transmitting “fraudulent information” over “wires,” and sentenced to 10 years in prison. If you return the prank, then it’s your ass in prison. Our advice? Return the prank, because prison’s sort of like Facebook: You meet new “friends,” learn what everyone did, and hope to God they like you.

2. Failing to Report Your Food Service Tips

Photo: Greg Ceo / Getty Images | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013

The Crime: Federal Tax Evasion (Title 26 U.S. Code §7201)

We all know the drill: Get a summer job at Sizzler, collect mad tips, then stash away the proceeds in an overseas bank account. The only downside to this plan is that you’re likely committing the federal crime of tax evasion, a pesky little felony which carries with it a penalty of up to five years in prison. Our advice? The only way to defeat the IRS is to join them, which may be a little more difficult than getting a summer job at Sizzler (we’ve tried and failed at both). A better approach might be to pay back those back taxes. Trust us: The IRS would much rather take your money than your inexperienced court-appointed lawyer. 

3. Egging Your Neighbor’s Mailbox

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The Crime: Vandalism of Federal Property (Title 18 U.S. Code §1705)

Just because your neighbor leaves garbage all over his lawn doesn’t make it okay to throw an egg at his rusted mailbox. If you’re lucky enough to survive the six strains of tetanus you’ve just been exposed to, then you’ll likely be charged with vandalism of federal property – a felony punishable by up to three years in the hole, which is just enough time to deter a mailbox vandal from re-offending. Our advice? Don’t get caught. Avoid throwing eggs in broad daylight, wear surgical gloves, and never, ever leave your insurance information on a mangled mailbox. No one’s gonna fear the inmate who’s in for “vandalizing a mail receptacle.”

4. Opening Your Roommate’s Mail

Photo: Getty Images | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013

The Crime: Mail Tampering (Title 18 U.S. Code §1708)

That Good Housekeeping magazine you’ve been dying to read all month is probably best left unopened, unless you’re ready to face up to 10 years behind bars for tampering with your roommate’s mail. Delving into the secrets of dining room vase arrangements before the magazine’s proper recipient has had his weekly toilet read would be unforgivable under any interpretation of the guy code. On the other hand, we’ve all “accidentally” opened up our roommate’s most recent issue of European Nudist Monthly, only to be traumatized by an overabundance of natural body hair. Our advice? Use deodorant. And for the record, most juries couldn’t find Europe on a map, let alone a magazine cover, so there’s no way they’ll believe you purposefully opened up a magazine about Europe. Without the element of intent, you’re “not guilty.”  

5. Downloading that Taylor Swift Song You Forgot to Buy For Your Girlfriend

The Crime: Copyright Infringement (Title 17 U.S. Code §501)

Sometimes we don’t want our credit card history to reflect a growing interest in The Little Mermaid, Cats, or endlessly lovelorn, tween-friendly country singers. So we surreptitiously download a song or two, and pretend we’re going to buy the album… uh, some other time, probably? Only now you’re guilty of the most common felony ever committed: Copyright infringement. Songs, words, and anything that’s essentially not a tree can be copyrighted, controlled, and sold for currency. To ignore this cycle of creative ownership is to risk up to 10 years in a maximum security prison (copyright violators are dangerous). Our advice? Before “borrowing” that preteen pop song for your next curling session, consider the natural talent of Taylor Swift’s legal team.

6. Giving Your Friend One of Those Blue Pills Your Doctor Prescribed

Photo: Ian Hooton / Getty Images | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013

The Crime: Distribution of a Controlled Substance (Title 21 U.S. Code §841)

If drug companies want us to take their creations seriously, then why the hell do their creations taste like oxy-cotton candy? Candy’s addictive and easy to share with friends! On the other hand, giving away said drug candy falls under the umbrella of “Distribution of a Controlled Substance,” which isn’t really an umbrella at all, but a federal crime punishable by up to forever-time behind bars. If you wanna prevent a pound of hurt, buy yourself an ounce of prevention: Don’t give away your pills, vitamins, clothes, or food recipes… ever. Avoid giving gifts for birthdays, special occasions, or pagan holidays. Just dance for people. Your mom will find it adorable, your girlfriend will find it courageous, and your friends will never ask you for a blue pill again.  

7. Using the Internet

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The Crime: Computer Fraud and Abuse (Title 18 U.S. Code §1030)

Those of us who’ve embraced the future to become Google zoomers, website whizzes, and email sailors, have also unwittingly embraced a world of cyber crime. For this you can thank the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 – a little-known federal law which punishes “unauthorized” access to an electrical current with up to 10 years in prison and a free trial subscription to AOL instant. Some of the bigger offenses under the “act” include violating a website’s terms of use, lying about one’s height, and arranging an awkward encounter with Dateline‘s Chris Hansen. Our advice? Take the plea deal, avoid the Internet, and avoid socializing with people. And for goodness sake, hire a lawyer – it’s safe, they’re not technically people.  

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