How to Become a Federal Criminal: Ridiculous & Ridiculously Easy!

How to Become a Federal Criminal

how-to-become-a-federal-criminal-9781508292975 coverAn Illustrated Handbook for the Aspiring Offender
By Mike Chase
Read by Jonathan Todd Ross
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (June 2019)
Runtime: 6 hours and 51 minutes
ISBN13: 9781508292975

I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader’s copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.

“Somebody with credentials has combed through a mountain of boring literature, highlighted all the ticklish parts and served them up for appreciation. This is an excellent book for people who like to start sentences with ‘Did you know that…’” —The New York Times

A hilarious, entertaining, and illuminating compendium of the most bizarre ways you might become a federal criminal in America—from mailing a mongoose to selling Swiss cheese without enough holes—written and illustrated by the creator of the wildly popular @CrimeADay Twitter account.

Have you ever clogged a toilet in a national forest? That could get you six months in federal prison. Written a letter to a pirate? You might be looking at three years in the slammer. Leaving the country with too many nickels, drinking a beer on a bicycle in a national park, or importing a pregnant polar bear are all very real crimes, and this riotously funny, ridiculously entertaining, and fully illustrated book shows how just about anyone can become—or may already be—a federal criminal.

Whether you’re a criminal defense lawyer or just a self-taught expert in outrageous offenses, How to Become a Federal Criminal is your wonderfully weird window into a criminally overlooked sector of American government.

My Take Oblong Shaped

With amusing line-drawings showing the comedic nature of the activities, like wrestling a bear in a national park, that could lead to federal charges, this book should be ROFL-funny.  And, this nicely narrated book is probably much funnier if you have a pdf file at hand which is not, generally, how I listen to audiobooks.  So, while I have glanced at the pictures in the provided (thank you!) pdf file, as I listened during my walks they did not have the same impact. 

How many of us have cowered in fear over the tn tag on an a new mattress? Good news: If you bought a mattress you can remove that tag. On the other hand the sheer scope of the myriad ways one could end up indicted by the powers that be, is impressive and makes obvious both the ridiculous number and nature of some regulations, but also the reasons behind them.  Often, they are the result of legalese attempting to regulate a real problem.  Sometimes it is an unforeseen side-effect of the language used.  And, sometimes it is because a legal area falls under the purview of more than one agency or legal body — the complexity of our legal system is made obvious.

Sometimes the ridiculous nature of the the laws are apparent and and the laws seem unnecessary, but other times it is obvious the laws, especially those involving the national parks are ridiculous because we, humankind, are ridiculous.  I’ve seen people in a national park violating the simplest law – a requirement to wear bike helmets – and then falling over the the wall of a sheer drop on a bike/hike trail (he was saved by the pedal clips that prevented him being injured. So, yes, even really stupid-seeming laws are actually necessary.  People do really stupid things and from that stupidity, stupid laws are born.

We’ve known for years about stupid municipal laws, like it is against the law [somewhere] to carry goldfish in a fishbowl on a bus. This is the equivalent on a federal level. But, even though I can see the value of the information I did not find the book funny in the same way.  I don’t know if it is the way the book is written, the need to carry the attendant illustrations or the proof of the complexity of the law, but while it occasionally made me chuckle, but I did not find it belly-laughingly funny. Maybe I would have found it funnier if I were a lawyer or law student?


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