Crimes Can Sometimes Be a Matter of Location

Most offenses remain consistent across the country. Running a red light or murdering somebody will be treated the same in Hawaii as it is in New York, Washington and everywhere in between. However, some smaller crimes can vary by state. These most often revolve around…

Gambling

Violating a gambling law can come down to the ground you’re standing on, or the money’s intent. Gambling is generally restricted in the U.S. with a few exceptions.

Games overseen by a charity commission are legal and encouraged in all but five states. These can include bingo, roulette, slot machines and lottery systems. If the money is benefitting a cause, it’s considered a form of incentivized giving. Pari-mutuel gambling, where a cash pool is formed with a winner or top three takes it as prize is mostly considered legal with the new exception of several southern states, D.C. and tribal nations. Commercial gambling through privately owned casinos is illegal in most states. The only places these can be found in well established areas are cities like Las Vegas, New York City and Atlantic City.

Native American lands are treated far differently due to their consideration as separate sovereign nations. Areas which are sanctioned as reservations can legally build a casino unless tribal law forbids it.

Racetracks, a once popular form of gambling, were mostly phased out by a collision of gambling and animal cruelty laws. States may allow them, but their treatment laws may forbid operation.

Marijuana Use

Current attitudes towards recreational use has changed greatly in recent years, however not every state has fully legalized marijuana. The only states left with full prohibition in effect are Indiana, Idaho, Kansas, South Dakota and West Virginia. Visitors from California, a fully legal state, may be surprised to find misdemeanor charges placed on them for activity that wouldn’t bat an officer’s eye in their home state. Most states will require a prescription backed up by specifics on strain or ingestion method (such as pills) that can also land individuals in trouble.

Same Sex Marriage

Much like recreational marijuana, attitudes have drastically changed in comparison to previous decades. On a federal level, same sex marriage is legal and entitles a couple to all benefits associated with a straight marriage. The majority of states follow these. However, there are some hold outs.

Major states such as Louisiana, Georgia and Michigan still have full bans, while others like Texas and Mississippi are in the process of legalization, though objections have put the decision in limbo.

Gun Ownership

Perhaps one of the slipperiest slopes when it comes to being right or wrong in a legal decision is related to gun ownership. The type of firearm, where it’s stored, magazine capacity and even its permits are taken into account and can vary on a county by county basis.
The laws are too different to safely make generalizations. If you have questions about what it takes to legally own a specific firearm in your area, it’s best to research online or contact a law enforcement agency.