Do You Really Think There's a Secret Code That Will Unlock Everything?

As rants go, this isn’t particularly specific or focused. But I’ll try to articulate what’s bugging me…

In this thread, the OP proposes different scenarios and wonders in which viewing child porn might not actually be a crime. The unspoken assumption is that the legal system has some sort of cheat code, like Doom, and if you only knew it and could key it in, the forces of government could only stand by, impotently, as you sailed through their mesh untouched.

It’s not the only time this sort of thinking has come up. I mention in the linked thread the analogy of the false belief that undercover police officers must reveal their true employment if only they’re asked. This is a legend I’ve encountered time and again, with criminal defendants outraged that the officer actually lied to them when asked if he was police.

Again, the thinking seems to be that there’s some sort of hidden, secret system in place, and if only you know the right words, you’re beyond the reach of the law.

Tax protestors exhibit this as well. Wages and tips are not actually income, technically, and taxes are voluntary, since you’re a citizen of your state, and not The United States. Besides, the Sixteenth Amendment was never actually ratified, so income tax is unconstitutional. If only you know these secrets, the right way to say or write the magic words, the government is powerless to compel you to pay taxes.


What are you, morons?

THERE IS NO MAGICAL RITUAL! Laws are administered by judges and juries made up of people, not robots. It’s true that a law must define specific criminal conduct, but it’s not going to be interpreted to create absurd, unintended results. There is no magical key that will allow you to unlock the system. If courts everywhere have been treating the Sixteenth Amendment as binding for years, how likely is it that merely announcing that you know it’s unconstitutional will cause the IRS to slink away in fear?

Grow up.

  • Rick

The blue moose barks at noon.

D’uh! Any person knows all that, Rick. But you’re dealing with people. And people are idiots.

I agree with the OP for the most part, however . . .

believe it or not, there do exist a few bona fide loopholes in the law out there.

Such as, lucwarm?

Can someone explain to me how a constitutional amendment is could be found unconstitutional?

For example, take a look at New York’s firearms law.

Now, let’s suppose you take a standard shotgun, remove the shoulder stock and replace it with a pistol grip. The resulting weapon is arguably not a “firearm,” “rifle,” or “shotgun” under New York law.

Believe it or not, I saw a New York case a few years ago where the defendant was charged with possession of such a weapon and the case was dismissed by the judge.

DISCLAIMER: PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE consult a lawyer before carrying a weapon in New York. I may be mis-remembering the case I saw, and the law may have changed, etc.

Esay, another amendment is ratified that modifies or cancells the first, i.e. the 21st cancelled the 18th.

The idea that magic loopholes exist is unfortunately helped along by legal dramas like Law & Order (which I love, by the way) that feature district attorneys constantly having to deal with hairsplitting legal challenges. In some of the weaker episodes of L&O, it’s easy to predict what elements in the first half (with the cops) wil be rehashed in the second half (with the courts).

Perp: Do I need a lawyer?
Briscoe: Nah, I spoke to the DA. He doesn’t think you need a lawyer.

Well of course this conversation and its implications are going be microanalyzed when the courtroom stuff starts. Geez, you’d think the characters would have learned this by now.

I think “diplomatic immunity” is a fairly good cheat code.

At least Congress, v1.07 hasn’t issued a patch yet.

But my hairdresser’s cousin’s neighbor’s son’s law professor said that I could…

There sure is. It’s Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Select, Start. :wink:

Yea, Bricker, we know—every day there is some poor sucker who thinks he alone can escape the awful majesty of the law because Ohio was not properly admitted as a State of the Union, or because the code section includes more than one topic or the real estate purchase agreement was not in writing or some other straw that the desperate and disenchanted grasp for. Leave them alone (and they’ll come home a-dragging their tails behind them). It is this sort of self-delusion that provides the profession with a living. If all the greed, stupidity and lust were eliminated many of us would have to go earn an honest living. Do not, I repeat, do not, look a gift horse in the mouth.

well, Bricker, I hate to be the one to tell you, but -

yes, yes there is a secret code that will allow you to break any law w/o consequences.
But only the really cool people know it.


DAMMIT! I try for a half hour to open this thread just so I can post the same joke that Amp beat me to posting.


Slight hijack, but my understanding is that in many jurisdictions, an agreement respecting the transfer of an interest in land, if not in writing and signed by the party to be charged, is unenforceable.


(Standard disclaimer about legal advice)

If you have a good tax attorney, the tax code is full of any number of “legal loopholes,” which is why some people who make upwards of $125,000,000 a year end up paying no more then $5000 in total taxes a year. Is that fair—I sure as fuck don;t think so. Is it legal—for now, yes it is.

I thought it was ‘Alt-1-7’ on a PS2 keyboard. Shows how much I know.

The problem, IMO, is that there are just enough legal “loopholes” to make the desperate or the uninformed believe there must be one for every situation, and if you only look long enough you will find it. This is wrong, obviously; the fact that an exception exists to one rule (or some rules) does not mean there are exceptions to every rule. And not every rule is a “loophole;” sometimes that’s just the way the law is.

For example: As lucwarm correctly notes, in most jurisdictions a conveyance of real property must be in writing in order to statisfy the Statute of Frauds. This is because it was decided a looooong time ago that land was important enough (and expensive enough), and fraud so easy to perpetrate, and oral contracts so hard to prove, that where land is concerned you have to write the sale down in order for it to be valid. (Note to those who would point out I am grossly oversimplifying the Statute of Frauds: Don’t bother.) So let’s say you selll your farm but then change your mind. You can point to the lack of a written sale agreement and argue that there never was a valid sale. Does that mean you’ve taken advantage of a “loophole”? No. You’ve just taken advantage of the settled law.

Similarly, in many jurisdictions, a will must be witnessed or attested to in order to be valid. No witnesses, no will. Again, there is long historical precedent for this and good reason: It’s easy to forge a will, and once Daddy Warbucks is dead, he can’t clarify whom he really meant to leave the money to. So he must sign his will in the presence of witnesses who can testify that, yes, he really signed it and, yes, he did it of his own free will and, no, he wasn’t senile at the time. But even if everybody and their dog knows D.W. wanted to leave his money to Little Orphan Annie and not his wastel nephew (and presumptive heir), the nephew will still get the money if the will is not valid. Does that mean the nephew took advantage of a “loophole”? No. That’s what the law provides for.

IMO, a “loophole” is a law that can be twisted so that it is misapplied or rendered meaningless, or else is an obvious gap in the law so that it does not cover something it pretty clearly was meant to cover – like lucwarm’s gun example.

But in both cases – laws and loopholes – we are talking about things that actually exist: Laws as correctly applied, or laws as incorrectly applied or gaps left by the law. What I take Bricker to be speaking of is something different: The non-existent law or loophole. Income tax is not unconstitutional. Period. You can argue from now until the end of time that it is – in fact, you can continue to argue it once they’ve repo’d your house and put you in jail. But it ain’t. Believing so is believing in a nonexistent law. Barfing into the Breathalyzer will not get you off the hook for DUI, because – contrary to persistent rumor – an officer can administer the test more than once, if something goes wrong the first time. Believing otherwise is believing in a non-existent loophole.

People in this category are putting their faith in fantasies – rules and laws that simply don’t exist. I used to deal with this a lot when dealing with pro se “free men.” “The state can’t make me get a driver’s license! I have an inherent right to drive!” Uh, no, sorry, you don’t. “The state can’t tell me I can’t run a slaughterhouse on my property! I can do anything I want on my own property. Property rights are absolute!” Wrong again. “I can put a lein on the local sheriff’s house for a billion dollars, because if I follow the letter of the statute for filing leins, then a judge can’t invalidate the lein as bogus!” No, you can’t, and yes, he can.

IMO, a good rule of thumb is that if you “heard it from this one guy” or you read it on the Internet, you’d be a fool to believe it. The government can almost always do whatever it claims it can do, because there are lots of people who are willing challenge its power to do [whatever], either for philosophical reasons (“the government is being overzealous and must be checked, so I’ll challenge this”) or practical ones (“if I can show that the government screwed this up, then I can get out of jail, so I’ll challenge this”).

In other words, there’s loopholes and then there’s loopholes. But “no loopholes based on fantasy or wishful thinking” does not translate to “no loopholes.”

Let’s do the Time Warp agaaaaaaaaaaain!

There is currently a case here in England where you could argue diplomatic immunity is being used as a “Stay-Out-Of-Jail” card:

It is possible to waive diplomatic immunity, and for offences such as murder it is understandable that the family of the victim feel agreaved by the way the diplomats are using (abusing?) the system.