Reasons to Go to Jail

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Almost two million people make up the total prison population of the United States. Each inmate has different cases and reasons why they’re in jail.

It’s difficult to peer into every case, but each inmate has specific reasons why they end up behind bars. Some are hilarious, some shocking, while others are sad and heartbreaking.

This article discusses why people are imprisoned, from the ridiculous to the most heart-wrenching stories. Furthermore, this piece tackles common crimes that result in jail time.

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Funny Reasons to Go to Jail

Going to prison is not a laughing matter. People should treat each criminal case seriously. But to be quite frank about it, some go to jail for the most hilarious reasons.

Here are examples of people going to jail for strange or ridiculous reasons. You just can’t make up these stories.

Failing to Return an Overdue Library Book

People say that a good book transports you to another world. However, Lori Teel, a New Mexico resident, not only got a fantastic journey with the Twilight series but was transported to jail because of it.

In 2012, police officers went into Teel’s home because of a reported disturbance and discovered her deep dark secret. The authorities got a hold of a library book and DVD (digital video disc) of the Twilight series, which wasn’t returned for two years. The apparently unthinkable act accrued fines of a whopping $36.

The police, seemingly appalled by the disrespect Teel had done to the dignity and honor of the library, handcuffed the offender in front of her five children and wafted her into jail.

The arrest may seem ridiculous, but the plot thickens. The library sought legal action to force Teel to return the borrowed properties and pay overdue fines.

The court issued notices, but Teel didn’t show up. Eventually, a warrant for her arrest was issued due to her failed court appearance, which was the basis for the police arresting Teel. However, the plot twist was that the court order was sent to the wrong address.

Her case was eventually dismissed, but the distraught mother of five now wants to sue the city government. She argued that handcuffing her in front of her children was an over-the-top reaction by police over an overdue library book that caused trauma and pain to her family.

Punching a Domino’s Driver Because He Forgot the Garlic Knots

Who would have thought being a pizza delivery guy was life-threatening? Jonathon Feigen realized the dangers of pizza delivery after experiencing the unhinged wrath of a 346-pound man who punched him in the face. The reason for his outburst? The assailant’s order was missing garlic knots.

The hungry customer lashed out at poor Feigen because of garlic knots. The offender’s name was Robert Wheeler, and he was unhappy with his incomplete pizza order.

The police eventually arrested Wheeler and jailed him for misdemeanor battery. Wheeler said in his defense that he punched Feigen not because of missing garlic knots but because the Domino’s Pizza franchise owes him money.

Misdemeanor battery charges involve physical conflicts that do not entail serious harm.

Collecting Rainwater

People don’t usually go to jail because of collecting rain. However, farmer Gary Harrington went a little overboard and did the unthinkable.

Oregon state officials ruled that he had gone too far by attempting to harvest the clouds to hoard 13 million gallons of precipitation.

The rainwater hoarder claimed the state issued him permits to build the reservoirs.

Harrington shared that the state arbitrarily retracted the permits and prohibited him from using his voluminous rainwater stash, enough to fill up 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Nevertheless, the court sentenced the rain-collecting offender to 30-day jail time and a fine of $1,500.

Listening to AC/DC Too Loudly

AC/DC is a famous Australian hard rock band that’s become one of the icons of the 70s. Joyce Coffy was an avid fan of this heavy metal band. However, as the saying goes, you can’t have too much of a good thing.

Coffy blared AC/DC’s Highway to Hell through her speakers for 26 hours, to her neighbors’ wailings and teeth gnashing. Local authorities had already warned her, but she didn’t listen. Eventually, she was arrested for her disruption and spent time in jail.

She was again arrested because of a domestic disturbance when Coffy attacked her nephew with a frying pan. Eventually, she was brought to a mental hospital and allowed to listen to music, now through headphones

Not Deleting a Facebook Account

Paula Asher was driving drunk when she ran into the back of another vehicle and fled the scene. Being a light-hearted person with a dash of comedienne spirit, Paula posted a comment joking about the crash she was involved in. The post didn’t go well with Paula’s victims, who filed a complaint.

Paula went to court and argued that it was just a joke. The judge ordered her to delete her post. Paula refused to follow the court order, thinking that deleting her funny joke was a waste.

The court had her arrested and sent to a county jail. Paula felt she was a comedienne, but the court was a cold crowd.

Failing to Predict an Earthquake

Talk about being blamed for something out of your control. Five Italian scientists endured the wrath of a disgruntled judge after failing to predict an earthquake.

The Earth’s tectonic movement is notoriously unpredictable, and scientists worldwide admit they can’t provide major earthquake forecasts.

However, Judge Marco Billi, who presided over the case, only took four hours to throw these bewildered scientists in jail for failing to predict an earthquake that destroyed the city of L’Aquila in Italy and killed 309 people.

The scientific world was so shocked by the court decision that 5,000 intellectuals petitioned for their colleagues’ release. The decision was eventually overturned, resulting in the scientists tasting freedom again.

Sending a Friend Request on Facebook

You should be careful when sending friend requests on Facebook or any social media platform because you can get jailed. Jacob Jock learned this the hard way when he sent a Facebook request to a defendant during a case where he was one of the jurors.

Jock sent a Facebook request to Violeta Milerman, a young woman who was a defendant in an auto negligence case.

The circuit judge, Nancy Donnellan, caught wind of Jock’s social escapade when Milerman admitted that the “friendly” juror contacted her. Jock’s actions didn’t sit well with the judge resulting in the court sentencing the offending juror to three days in jail.

Entire Court Jailed for Ringing Mobile

They say you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater, but what about your phone ringing during a court session? For Judge Robert Restaino, having your mobile device go off inside the court he’s presiding is enough to warrant his wrath.

What enraged Restaino was that during a case he was presiding, a phone rang around 11 times. He was so infuriated by the disrespectful act that he demanded the owner of the unruly device admit to his unimaginable crime.

When no one came forward to admit to the “crime,” Judge Restaino ordered the courtroom to be locked and detained all 46 hearing attendees. The judge’s decision effectively detained the attendees against their will and enraged the court audience.

Some pleaded with the judge to let go of those who didn’t have phones. Despite acknowledging this fact, Restaino didn’t allow their release.

Some were eventually released from detainment by posting bail, but 14 of the 46 who couldn’t bail themselves out of Restaino’s restraint were sent to jail.

Eventually, all 46 were released from their charge. People commented that the event was a moment of “viral lunacy,” and a period of “inexplicable madness.”

Reading Wife’s Emails

The following story shows that reading your wife’s email without her consent can put you in jail.

Leon Walker got into trouble for reading the email of Clara Walker, his wife, without her permission. Leon snooped into Clara’s inbox because he was suspicious of marital infidelity. Leon found what he was looking for and read evidence from Clara’s mail that she was having an affair.

However, Clara learned about her husband’s email investigation and alerted the police. Leon was arrested and almost faced five years of imprisonment, only to have an ace up his sleeves.

Leon revealed that Clara was also snooping on his text messages. The two were doing the same thing to each other, so the case was dropped.

Tweeting Stupid Things

Being stupid may not be a crime, but doing stupid things may lead you to prison. Liam Stacey, a 21-year-old Swansea University student, flooded Twitter with offensive comments against Fabrice Muamba, a footballer who suffered a heart attack.

People offended by Stacey’s offensive comments started reacting to his tweets. Stacey lashed out with a tweeting vengeance and rained upon his commenting adversaries with a new level of offensive tweeting.

Eventually, his outrageous actions resulted in a complaint, which led to his arrest. Initially, Stacey told law enforcement that his account had been hacked. However, he retracted his statement and said he was drunk tweeting. He changed his statement again and said he was just fooling around. The court wasn’t amused and threw Stacey to jail for 56 days.

Some People Get Arrested on Purpose so They Can Go to Jail — Their Reasons Range From Sad, to Nefarious, to Political

For most people, going to jail is not an exciting prospect. However, some individuals purposely go to jail for peculiar reasons. Here are reasons people have listed for wanting to be thrown behind bars deliberately:

To Sneak Contraband Into Jail

In some instances, inmates deliberately go to jail as a part of their drug delivery plan to get into a correctional facility.

An example of such an event is what undercover police discovered when they went inside Clark County Jail to investigate the entry of contraband. The police found out that some people deliberately get arrested to smuggle drugs inside prison through their orifices.

To Get Access to Healthcare

Sometimes people deliberately get arrested to get the medical attention they can’t get outside prison. Frank Morocco, 56, had leukemia and couldn’t receive the treatment he needed from the healthcare system outside prison.

So, he deliberately shoplifted in a grocery store and ensured many saw what he was doing. He was eventually arrested but released shortly after.

To Quit Smoking

In Sacramento, California, a woman intentionally slapped a cop to get arrested, hoping it would help her quit smoking. Etta Mae Lopez pleaded no contest to the slapping charge, and the court sentenced her to 63 days in jail with a three-year probation.

To Kick a Drug Habit

Some people must be forced to quit to drop a bad habit. Dillan Starnes, a 20-year-old youth from Lorrain, Ohio, thought going to jail was the best solution to his drug problem.

So, he visited his mother in the middle of the night, violating a temporary protection order against him. Starnes knocked on the door for 15 minutes, causing her mother to call 911.

The police arrived and arrested Starnes. The offender claimed that he intentionally got himself arrested to end his heroin addiction.

Because Jail Is Better Than Life on the Streets

Some go to jail to escape the hard life on the streets. Lance Brown, a homeless man, hurled a brick into a courthouse in Columbus, Georgia, to get himself arrested.

He later said in an interview that if he’s in jail, he’ll get offered a sandwich and drinks. He eventually got sentenced to one month in jail for his actions.

To Prove a Point

Others intentionally go to jail to prove a point or defend an ideal or position in a specific political discussion. Ben Cohen was arrested for violating the noise ordinance in Burlington, Vermont.

The reason for this noise blasting was his opposition to the planned launch of 18 Air Force F-35 jets to the city’s Air National Guard base. He wanted to simulate the noise Burlington residents would hear if the jets arrived.

To Find Out What Jail Is Like

Some are just curious to know what it’s like behind bars. Bobby Constantino, a former prosecutor, wanted to intentionally go to prison to look into the criminal justice system of the United States.

He was trying to prove that, in New York, the chances of a “white guy” in a suit getting arrested are slim. Constantino tried different ways to force the cops to notice him and get arrested, which law enforcement eventually did.

Because They’re Lonely

Lastly, some people would instead go to jail than live in constant loneliness despite their freedom. Crimes commited by senior adults in Japan or people over 65 have risen through the years because they’d rather be with other people in jail than live alone.

What Happens When One Is Accused of a Crime?

Now that we’ve read about the funny and sad reasons people go to jail, it’s time to tackle more serious matters. The following sections aim to help you understand the processes involved when a person gets accused of a crime and arrested.

A person becomes an accused individual when they are arrested or formally charged with a crime. The criminal case starts once a person is arrested and jailed by law enforcement.

If Accused of Something, Remember That You Have Rights

Let’s say you’re the person who got arrested because of a complaint from a victim. Remember that despite being accused of a criminal act, you still have rights you can invoke. The following rights are taken from the 5th, 6th, and 8th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

  • The right to remain silent
  • The right to due process
  • The right to trial by jury
  • The right to be informed of the cause and nature of the accusation
  • The right to trial in a timely manner
  • The right to have legal counsel
  • The right to confront witnesses against you
  • The right to compel witnesses to testify for you
  • The right against cruel and unusual punishments
  • The right against excessive bail

If you’re arrested, the police will “verbally” inform you of your rights as the accused. This requirement is called the Miranda warning.

What Can Make You Go to Jail?

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After understanding your rights as the accused, here are some common reasons for people getting arrested. The following crimes can incur prison sentences and fines as punishments.

However, the jail length and amount of fines depend on the type and severity of the crime commited, the judge’s decision, and the state law.


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Common theft or larceny is one of the most common reasons people go to jail. Larceny is the intentional taking of other people’s property without using any force.

The elements needed for one to get jailed for larceny are the following:

  • The unlawful act of taking or carrying away someone else’s property
  • The owner not consenting to the accused taking the property
  • The accused having the intention to permanently deprive the owner of using the property

An example of larceny is shoplifting. Larceny is defined as the offender taking another person’s merchandise without their knowledge.

Drug Offenses

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Any drug-related offense is enough for anyone to go to prison. Drug-related crimes, like selling, smuggling, producing, and possessing illegal drugs, guarantee imprisonment.

Drug Abuse Violations

pexels towfiqu barbhuiya 11030157A subcategory of drug offenses is drug abuse violations. This crime includes the illegal use of drugs like cocaine, heroin, and, in some states, marijuana.

Traffic Offenses

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Driving a vehicle is a privilege and not a right. One has to abide by traffic laws if one wants to continue to enjoy driving perks. Violating any traffic laws could result in getting punished because it may cause danger to other motorists on the road.

Driving Under the Influence

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DUI, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, is a crime that has penalties depending on the state law and the severity of the offense.

First-time DUIs may result in fines or community service as punishment. Repeat offenders may have harsher penalties, including license suspension or revocation and possible jail time.

Violating Traffic Laws

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Jail time for traffic offenses depends on the severity of the crime. First-time traffic violations like speeding or beating a red light may not result in prison time. However, repeated violations may increase the likelihood of one facing harsher penalties.

Disorderly Conduct

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Any act likely to disturb, disrupt public peace, or offend public decency can be a basis for being charged with disorderly conduct.

Spouting obscene language publicly, blocking roads, and being intoxicated in public can all fall under disorderly conduct. Jail time for these offenses is based on the disruption’s severity.


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Any threats or attempts to physically attack someone or incite fear in victims due to such harm can be classified as assault.

Physical Assault

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Physically attacking someone can be regarded as physical assault. However, you don’t need actual contact to get convicted of this crime. Threatening someone with physical harm can be enough for the offender to go to jail.

Sexual Assault

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Forcing someone to engage in any sexual activity, especially without consent, is considered sexual assault. This type of assault includes rape, groping, coercion, and attempted rape. Sexual assault is a severe crime and will almost always lead to jail or prison time and a criminal record that won’t go away.



The main difference between theft, robbery, and larceny is that theft is an umbrella term for any form of stealing that larceny and robbery fall into. Larceny is theft without force, while robbery is theft using force to take other people’s property.


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The general meaning of fraud is misrepresenting or intentionally concealing facts of a transaction to deceive another person to their disadvantage.


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Any action done by a person that causes the death of another is classified as a homicide. However, the presence and absence of intent is a crucial factor to determine the severity. Murder is an intentional, premeditated killing of another person. Meanwhile, manslaughter has no premeditated intention.


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Any criminal act involving the internet and new gadgets, like laptops, tablets, or other devices connected to the internet, is classified as cybercrime. Common examples of cybercrimes are hacking, identity theft, and cyberbullying.

Offenses Against the Justice System

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Another offense that can lead to jail time is violating rules implemented through the justice system. Examples are breach of probation conditions, parole violations, failure to appear in court after being summoned, perjury, and breach of bail.

Perjury refers to an individual intentionally and knowingly lying about a material issue.

More About Criminal Law

The law in the United States can be divided into civil and penal or criminal law. All of the crimes stated above are under criminal law, which often involves prison time as one of its punishments.

Felony and Misdemeanors

Offenses under criminal law can be further divided into felonies and misdemeanors. The punishment and fines for these two categories depend on state or federal laws and the severity of the crime.

Felonies are severe crimes that will most likely result in prison time of more than one year. On the other hand, misdemeanors are less severe crimes with prison time of up to one year.

What Do You Have to Prove in Criminal Law?

It’s the burden of the prosecution to provide evidence that shows without reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of a criminal charge.

Criminal cases have a more significant burden of proof because the penalties are harsher, unlike the punishment for lighter offenses like misdemeanors and violations.

Here Are a Few Tips That Can Help People With Minimizing or Preventing Any Chances of Going to Jail or Prison

Sometimes the only way for a criminal case to be in your favor is to minimize the penalties or prevent jail time. Here are some ways to increase the likelihood of getting a more lenient sentence.

Remember One Key Way to Protect Yourself

When faced with an arrest, remember to invoke the rights of the accused. Stay silent and only talk with your legal counsel to avoid self-incrimination.

Be Responsible and Accountable

Irresponsible behavior will most likely lead to trouble. You can become responsible if you feel accountable for your actions. Accountability is the first step to ensure you don’t go back to jail.

Learn the Criminal Laws

If you learn the criminal laws, you can protect yourself from committing a criminal offense. You may not have committed any crime, but you can be falsely accused. So, it’s good practice to read articles on criminal law, especially those explicitly implemented in your state.

Be Focused

If you’re among the prison population still fresh from being released, always be focused. Have a goal in life and stick to it.

You can start by getting a degree, developing a skill, or doing anything productive to improve your well-being.

Seeking Help After an Arrest

The moment you’re arrested, it’s crucial to get legal help. A criminal defense lawyer can assist with the initial phase of a criminal case. These legal experts can help you post bail, prepare a defense, and speak on your behalf so you don’t risk incriminating yourself. can help you get the documents you need to help lawyers build a case for you or a loved one facing a criminal charge. Our website links to over 7,000 correctional facilities in the United States, including federal and state prisons, local and county jails, military prisons, and immigrant detention facilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What crimes can get you six months in jail?

Usually, any crime that falls under the misdemeanor category will have a sentence length of less than one year. Most of these offenses are nonviolent crimes with relatively lenient sentences. 

2. What’s the worst felony?

First-degree felonies are the worst kinds of felonies in criminal law. Any crime that has the words “first-degree” preceding it denotes that it is the most severe or worst kind in that category. First-degree murder can lead to life imprisonment or even the death penalty in states that employ capital punishment. 

3. What are most prisoners in jail for?

More than 350,000 people are imprisoned for drug offenses. It’s one of the defining demographic in the federal prison system. Furthermore, over one million are arrested annually for illegal drug possession. Many end up with prison sentences

4. What is the most common type of crime?

According to reports, the top crime in the United States is larceny-theft. More than seven million cases are reported annually, accounting for almost 60% of all reported crimes. 


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