You probably know that topless bathing is illegal, but how about leaving a ladder outside? From pigeons to grass cutting, as he trawled through the Criminal Code, Kurt Sansone discovered some interesting things you may not have known you couldn’t do.
Never mind that it sounds like a stupid idea, but leaving a ladder out on the street is illegal, according to the law.
Well, to be exact, it is not just leaving a ladder on the sidewalk that could land you in trouble but any “iron bar, weapon or other instrument” which might be improperly used by “thieves or other wrong-doers”.
So the next time you paint the facade, just be doubly sure the ladder is back inside, out of the public’s reach, lest you be accused of a crime against public order.
This is one of a list of ‘don’t dos’ listed in the Criminal Code in an attempt to preserve public order and safeguard private and public property.
Skimming through the list throws up the legal basis for the ban on topless bathing, which is not limited to popular beaches. It is unlawful for anyone “to go naked or be indecently dressed” in “the harbours, on the seashore or in any other public place”.
Lawyers argue that ignorance of the law is no excuse, and the next time you think of removing that unsightly wild bush cropping out of a historic structure, just tuck those shears back into your bag.
It helps to know that it is illegal to cut “any grass” in any fortification unless a permit is obtained. It is also illegal to throw any building material or rubbish in any ditch or in the vicinity of any fortification, something we thought should be obvious, but not to some.
It is a crime to “run violently” in any street or open space with the risk of injuring other people. So when you get the urge to run down Valletta’s Republic Street, restrain yourself, lest you end up in court.
On a more contentious note, the law prohibits wearing “any mask” or disguise in a public place, leaving it open to interpretation whether this also applies to religious face coverings like the burqa. The law does, however, make an exception if masks are allowed by a specific law that describes the time and manner when they can be worn.
While it is OK to invite fellow prayer group members to come and pray at home, using your apartment as a place of public religious worship is illegal unless it is duly licensed for such activity.
It is also a crime to open and keep a public school without permission.
Pigeons may not be your cup of tea, but the law offers protection to your neighbour’s domesticated pigeons.
It is illegal to shoot “doves or pigeons, other than wild doves or pigeons, belonging to any other person”, the law prescribes.
And if that juicy fig hanging from a tree in the field next to where you are picnicking is tantalising, just turn away to avoid the temptation of cutting it off. The Criminal Code makes it illegal to “pluck or eat” fruit and other produce in any privately owned field.
It is also illegal to lead an “idle and vagrant life” and force someone to beg alms in a public place.
And for the party animals throwing a feast at home for friends and kin, the law is clear: it is illegal at night time to disturb “the repose” of people by being rowdy and noisy.