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Crazy Laws in Arizona: Marking a Flag

March 25, 2015

For some people, a flag stirs profound feelings of patriotism. For others, a flag stirs strong feelings of artistry. While the latter may not sound like such a bad thing, it can actually lead to handcuffs. The next time you have an urge to draw a kitten on Arizona’s copper star, you should keep in mind that marking the flag is actually illegal.

Origin of Flags as Symbols

To understand this law, you need to understand exactly what flags mean to some people. The use of flags can be traced at least back to ancient Rome, when standards helped distinguish and coordinate legions in battle. Once ocean travel became more common, flags began to be associated with various territories and city states both on and off the battlefield. Over time, citizens started feeling a special kinship with their flags—much as they felt with their home nations.

Defacing an Arizona Flag

Since many people associate flags with their beloved homeland, it’s no surprise that they would get offended by flag defacement. You might assume that laws protecting flags are actually protecting the state, as defacing such a potent symbol could theoretically be seen as a call to revolution. However, Arizona makes no mention of sedition in its statutes; rather, the law says it is illegal to deface a flag “in any manner likely to provoke immediate physical retaliation.” In other words, if your artistic additions to the Arizona flag are likely to earn you a punch in the face, you will get arrested.

Potential Consequences

Marking an Arizona flag is considered a class 2 misdemeanor, which means a conviction will earn you up to four months in jail, hundreds of dollars in fines, and a couple years of probation. Other class 2 misdemeanors include criminal trespassing and reckless driving. So if you were to draw on the Arizona flag while driving on your neighbor’s front lawn, you would be in serious trouble.

If you ever find yourself accused of a crime, ridiculous or otherwise, reach out to Janet Altschuler, a criminal defense attorney in Tucson. Janet Altschuler is dedicated to ensuring that Arizona residents receive fair and capable representation.

This article is part of a collection of The Most Ridiculous Laws in the United States! Some of these laws are downright hard to believe. Do you know what might be illegal in your state?