Ever borrowed some pine straw from a neighbor’s yard or stayed in a motel room with someone of the opposite sex to whom you weren’t married? If so, take caution: In North Carolina, if they meet certain parameters, these acts could place you on the wrong side of the law.
While every region has its own unusual or unique laws, the Tar Heel state stands out for some of the strangest legislation to be found in the lower 48. So if you’re considering a drunken Bingo binge or find yourself coveting the neighbor’s grease vat, you might want to think twice.
Here is a look at seven of the kookiest North Carolina laws still on the books.
Operating as a professional psychic
While novices are free to ply their trade uninhibited, North Carolina prohibits you from operating as a professional psychic or professional fortune-teller. Simply registering as a “professional” is classed as illegal in the state.
General Statute 14-401.5 “It shall be unlawful for any persons to practice the arts of phrenology, palmistry, fortune-telling and other crafts of a similar kind.”
Sharing a bedroom with the opposite sex/lying about marriage
If you’re considering getting up to a bit of the old hanky panky, you better put a ring on it in North Carolina.
Any man and woman who are not married and are found occupying the same bedroom in any hotel, public inn or boarding house for any “immoral purpose” may be found guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor. And don’t try to skirt the rules by lying about your marital status.
That loophole was sealed shut when the law was first put on the books in 1907. General Statute 14-186.
Stealing pine needles or pine straw
Don’t get caught purloining anything left behind by the state’s abundant species of pine trees. A person can be found guilty of a Class H felony if they take, or help take any pine needles or pine straw from land where notices, signs, or posters prohibit the raking or removal of pine needles or pine straw.
General Statute 14-159.7: “If any person shall take and carry away, or shall aid in taking or carrying away, any pine needles or pine straw being produced on the land of another person upon which land notices, signs, or posters prohibiting the raking or removal of pine needles or pine straw have been placed…with the intent to steal the pine needles or pine straw, that person shall be guilty of a Class H felony.”
More:Cases in Craven owners already courts: ‘Carolina Squat’ truck owners being cited
Stealing over $1,000 of grease
Making off with pine straw isn’t the only unusual thievery frowned upon in North Carolina. State lawmakers have deemed the stealing of kitchen grease to be a particularly heinous crime.
Carrying away any container of waste kitchen grease without consent could get you charged with a Class H felon. However, the value of the kitchen grease must total $1,000 or more in order to qualify as a felon. Anything less and you’ll only face a Class 1 misdemeanor.
General Statute 14-79.2: “It shall be forbidden for any person to do any of the following:(1) Take and carry away, or aid in taking or carrying away, any waste kitchen grease container or the waste kitchen grease contained therein, which container bears a notice that unauthorized removal is prohibited without written consent of the owner of the container. (2) Place a label on a waste kitchen grease container knowing that it is owned by another person in order to claim ownership of the container.”
Holding an organizational meeting while wearing a mask
Though thankfully it doesn’t appear to have been enforced during COVID-19, under North Carolina law if you are over the age of 16 your face must be clearly visible and your voice plainly heard when participating in an organized meeting. Wearing anything with the intention to disguise your identity in any way is forbidden. This also includes organized demonstrations in the state of NC.
General Statute 14-12.10: “No person or persons at least 16 years of age shall while wearing a mask, hood or device whereby the person, face or voice is disguised so as to conceal the identity of the wearer, hold any manner of meeting , or make any demonstration upon the private property of another unless such person or persons shall first obtain from the owner or occupier of the property his or her written permission to do so.”
Borrowing your neighbor’s dog
Don’t even think about taking off with your neighbor’s pooch, or several other animals, without their consent.
In North Carolina, it’s illegal to take your neighbor’s dog, horse, gelding, mare, or mule without them knowing. Even if your intention is to take the animal for temporary purposes and then return it, you might be facing a Class 2 misdemeanor.
General Statute 14-82: “If any person shall unlawfully take and carry away any horse, gelding, mare, mule, or dog, the property of another person, secretly and against the will of the owner of such property, with intent to deprive the owner of the special or temporary use of the same, or with the intent to use such property for a special or temporary purpose, the person so offending shall be guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor.”
Serving alcohol while playing Bingo
If you’re planning for a boozy night out at the local Bingo parlor, think again. In North Carolina it’s illegal to host any game that includes gambling, such as Bingo, in an establishment that serves alcohol. Hosting any form of gambling while serving alcohol opens you up for a Class 2 misdemeanor charge. And in the case of Bingo, specifically, no game must exceed a period of five hours in a public space.
General Statute 14-293: “If any keeper of an ordinary or other house of entertainment, or of a house wherein alcoholic beverages are retailed, shall knowingly suffer any game, at which money or property, or anything of value, is bet.. .to be played in any such house, or in any part of the premises occupied therewith; or shall furnish persons so playing or betting either on said premises or elsewhere with drink or other thing for their comfort or subsistence during the time of play, he shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.”