You might think, thanks to movies and TV shows, you have a good idea of what goes on in a court room. Everything looks professional and put together (for the most part). Contrast that with real life: people give absurd excuses for their actions.
From ridiculous logic to boldface lies, it's just another day in court for these judges (who have probably heard it all).
We've compiled a list of some of the worst --- and funniest --- defenses to disgrace the courtroom.
Comments have been edited for grammar and clarity.
1. Doggone defense
There was a lady who was already on probation for DUI charges and got pulled over for driving while intoxicated.
Her defense didn't argue the blood alcohol levels which were recorded, but instead argued that she hadn't drank — she was diabetic.
She claimed she had an open cut on her forearm, which her dog licked while sitting in the passenger seat.
The yeast in the dog's saliva began to ferment the sugar in her bloodstream, which registered as alcohol.
I still can't decide if that defense is so utterly terrible that she deserves extra penalty or whether it's so original that maybe she should take a lighter charge.
2. All that for a pack of smokes
A friend of mine got a ticket for leaving her car standing in the marked-off No Parking Zone in front of a grocery store. She was just running in to get a pack of smokes.
Then she saw how much the ticket was for, something like $120, which she thought was just ridiculous.
Her plan was to go to court and contest the ticket, point out to the judge how ridiculous it was and offer to compromise at maybe $40.
She goes to court and eventually she gets bored while waiting. Goes outside to grab a smoke. While she's out there, her case is called.
She missed the whole thing, didn't even get to try her defense on the judge and got hit for the full value of the ticket, plus court costs.
3. Stupid is as stupid does
There was a lady who got up to make her case in front of the judge. She point blank told the judge in front of the officer that ticketed her that her violation was “stupid from a know-it-all cop.”
The judge then questioned the officer, “Your honor, the defendant’s car was going 75 mph in a 35 mph lane and ran several stoplights.”
The judge then proceeded to ask why those charges were unreasonable.
Her answer was parody level, as she said, “I was drinking last night and woke up late. I couldn’t lose another job, so I needed to be on time.”
She ended up paying $500 for wasting the judge’s time in addition to her tickets.
4. He pulled out all the stops (signs)
I saw this go down while waiting for my traffic ticket.
Judge: You were seen pulling a stop sign out of the ground and throwing it in the river.
Accused: Yes, sir.
J: Were you intoxicated?
A: No, sir.
J: The ticket says you were intoxicated.
A: No, sir.
J: OK, let's say I believe you. I will throw out this disorderly charge.
A: Thank you, sir.
J: But, I will have to charge you with the destruction of government property and endangering the public. That comes with at least a year in jail. So I'll ask one more time...were you intoxicated?
A: Yes, sir. Very intoxicated, sir.
5. The judge found it humerus
There was a guy suing someone else after a traffic accident and claimed the movement of his arm was permanently reduced.
The judge didn’t believe him for one minute and nobody did, really. Then he was asked how high he could lift his arm.
He ‘grimaced’ as he painstakingly raised his arm, before saying, “Here.” For reference he had lifted his arm about parallel to the ground.
Judge gives a slight smirk and asks him how high he could lift his arm before — the guy lifts his arm all the way up and exclaims, “Here!”
The case got thrown out, as you can imagine.
6. You’ve got to be kitten me
Might not exactly be a bad defense, but when I was going through the legal system with my ex-wife, there was a case before ours between a woman and her son.
She was suing him over a bag of cat food. He took a bag and never paid her for it after he’d promised.
He was just kind of like, “Yeah, I never paid her back and I probably never will.”
What’s worse is the judge sounded so casual about it like it was a normal thing for him to hear.
I can’t believe someone was taken to court over a bag of cat food.
7. Emotionally damaging
I was rear-ended a few years ago and I was fine letting the insurance settle everything and getting it over with.
Two months later, the insurance still hasn’t settled anything at that point, I get served while I’m working. The guy was taking me to court to sue for “emotional damages”.
I went in pro se and won. Apparently his doctor stopped giving him prescriptions for painkillers about a month after the accident so he then found a psychiatrist and was trying to get a lifetime of Xanax.
He said I caused the accident, therefore causing him to have PTSD.
He was going 65 mph on a 30 mph road and I was stopping for a red light.
8. Lock, stock and two smoking brothers
I was in court for a speeding ticket and witnessed two brothers who had been ordered to appear and show clean test results. They had over 30 days to prepare for the test. They knew this the whole time.
They tested positive. The judge looked at them and asked, "What am I supposed to do for you here? You had a chance to go free if you could pass one test and you failed.”
They tried to claim they hadn't touched anything and were just around roommates that smoke a lot.
The judge basically said that's not really possible, but knowing they had 30 days to be clean for this test, they shouldn't have been near people who were smoking anyways.
They went to jail for two days for "direct contempt of court.”
9. Goodbye — and good money
Lived in a rent-controlled apartment. Very strict rules for eviction for cause (i.e. not for non-payment of rent - for things like renovations, moving a relative, etc.).
We didn’t object to the eviction, we just wanted the landlord to follow the law, which would have meant paying us $7,000. The landlord refused, gave us a 30-day notice (not 60, as the law required.) We went to housing court.
The landlord actually said this to the judge: “We understand what the law says, but we don’t think the law is fair, so we’re not going to obey it.”
Immediate bad-faith ruling, we ended up with the penalty amount: triple the original.
10. Mom got smoked
During their divorce, my stepmom (who never adopted me), was trying to get partial custody with my dad.
The judge said since I was 15 it was up to me how much contact I had with her.
She complained I never rode in her car anymore because he was brainwashing me against her. My dad reminded her she had started smoking since the divorce started and I couldn’t breathe in her car.
She announced to the judge that she only started smoking because she hoped it would get my dad to start again and she could prove he’s an addict.
The judge gave him full custody.
11. Off her game
I was a municipal prosecutor several years ago and tried a case concerning a stolen game system. The victim reported that his system was stolen by his ex-girlfriend.
So, the police went over to the ex-girlfriend's house and asked if she stole the system. She said she hadn't. They asked if she minded if they looked around.
She said, “Of course, come on in!” (Pro tip, the correct answer here is, "Not without a warrant.") So, they went straight to the living room and found the system sitting next to the TV.
There was a pipe literally sitting on top of the system, so they hit her with a charge for that as well.
Her defense to the charges? "I only gave them permission to look for the game system."
That did not work.
12. Cashless and clueless
I was a jury foreman on a criminal case where the defendant was accused of passing bad checks.
He wrote a check at a food place, then across the street he wrote a check to pay for car repairs, and then he tried to cash a fake check at a bank next door to that. Everything on video.
He was caught at the bank when they called the police while they were "processing" his check.
Anyways, at the trial, the defense presented was that he was being persecuted by the "system" because his last name was Cashless.
Even had his mother testify to how much torment he had endured due to that name.
We found him guilty in less than two hours of deliberation. Would have been faster, but we wanted to wait for the free lunch.
13. Interview with a vampire
I once fought a speeding ticket, so I remember while I was waiting for my name to be called...I observed and witnessed this case against a lady also fighting a speeding ticket (going 60 mph in a 25 mph lane).
I remember thinking, “OK, I am going to study this and check out her defense.”
Judge: What do you plead, Miss?
The Lady: Your honor, I turn into a vampire at 5 a.m. in the morning.
What I think she meant was that she was not a morning person...But I kid you not, straight face and all she uttered those words to a judge. I wonder what she thought was going to happen?
14. Pack up your emotional baggage
I was supporting my brother in divorce court.
His ex-wife said the reason why she couldn't see her kids last Christmas was because she was sick, but she was in Las Vegas.
She actually snapped at the judge and said she didn't want to get the kids sick so she went to Las Vegas.
My brother's lawyer had her Facebook post of the tickets with dates and every vacation she went on.
She also forgot she went to Alaska three weeks ago instead of seeing the kids. The judge actually stopped the trial and advised her council to settle because it would not end well.
She forgot she went to Mexico, Jamaica and Belize as well in the past year.
15. A calculated risk, but she was bad at math
A young lady around 20 years old was called up to the stand.
The judge asked her why she hadn't paid the $300 fine that he had given her three months to pay. She said she couldn't afford it because she bought a new car.
The judge started asking her about her 'new' car and asked her about financing and if she had a decent down payment.
She said: Oh yes, sir. I put $1,000 down.
The judge said: Wow, a thousand dollars?
[Grinning] she said: Yes.
Judge banged his gavel and said to the bailiff, “Take her into custody.”
The girl, now confused, asked what just happened.
Judge said, “If you can afford a $1,000 down payment on a new car, then you could afford to pay the court the $300 fine. You can now spend three days in lock-up and think about it.”
16. Stu who?
I had a client come in saying that he "needed to sue Stu for robbing all his checks."
When I asked him if Stu had a last name, he said no. When I asked him if he knew any Stu, he said no. When I asked him what proof he had that Stu was robbing him, he showed me all of his pay stubs.
There were clear, monthly deductions by "SCU.”
As soon as I saw it, I knew. I asked, "Do you have children?"
I then told him, "Your Stu is the SCU — the Support Collection Unit. They take money out of your check to pay for your child."
He left the office insisting that we needed to find Stu.
17. Forging ahead with contracts
I was on a jury once for a civil case against a tow truck company. Part of the evidence was the “contract” which the car owner claimed, included her signature being forged.
We saw the contract and about five examples of her signature on other documents. It was obviously not her signature. The driver took to the stand to be questioned.
Attorney: Did she sign the contract?
Tow truck driver: Yes.
Attorney: When did she sign the contract?
Tow truck driver: After she left with her son.
Attorney: How did she sign the contract if it was signed after she left?
Tow truck driver: Oh yeah, I signed it for her.
18. He needed to console himself
I had a teacher that worked for a major video game publisher and a guy sued them because a game was bad.
The guy suing was a law student, self-representing and tried to throw the book at the company.
The lawsuit kept escalating until both sides wasted lots of time and money.
Then as a final stroke, they offered to settle in front of a judge. There in front of the judge, they put the price of the game on the table in cash and told the guy to just take it and stop bothering them.
The judge thought it was very fair and told the guy that if he refused that settlement he would be fined.
Guy was very unhappy. He spent like $5,000 USD in bureaucracy and airplane fares to get $60 USD.
19. The fast and the oblivious
I was in traffic court and the first guy to go before the judge got pulled over doing some crazy speed, like 140 mph.
The judge essentially told the guy to say he wouldn't ever do it again and that it was a mistake, and in return, the judge would drop the ticket fee and the points on his record.
The guy countered with, "Well, I drive that fast all the time, so I'm really good at it, and I don't think it was dangerous at all because of how good of a driver I am."
Guy could've walked out totally free, but instead got a $2,500 fine and points on his record.
20. Spinning plates
For my first time being a juror, a man had been caught driving without valid ID and plates.
He had "ID" (pretty sure it was just a membership card to somewhere) that had been legally "notarized" which he believed counted as a driver's license.
He also had "private" plates on his vehicle, which literally just had the word "private" on it. He thought that by putting "private" plates on his unregistered vehicle that he could drive anywhere he pleased.
He then basically just tried to convince the jury that the government was unjustly controlling and that he should be able to do whatever he wants since that is actually freedom.
I'd give him an A for effort but an F for common sense. This is why you shouldn't represent yourself and opt-out of having a lawyer.
21. Oh, brother
Went to court last year with school and there was this dude being charged for threatening someone with bodily harm after a disagreement on the road.
One bystander filmed it and made it available as evidence and the film clearly showed it was the guy that was in court.
Judge: Sir, we have a charge for threatening someone with bodily harm, did you do it?
Dude: No Sir.
Judge: [Shows video clearly showing the dude with the object, threatening someone]
Dude: No sir, that was my brother.
First of all, he tried to set up his own brother, what a jerk move.
Secondly, the dude in court was a tall and skinny guy with dreadlocks and his brother was small, fat and bald.
Judge: [Shows picture of the dude's brother] You mean this guy?
22. Order of proposal
My case was last on the docket due to the respondent being in custody, so I watched pair after pair get called forward.
At one point, a woman who is hoping to be granted a two-year order of protection (OP) is called up, along with the respondent.
After a few minutes of the judge hearing from both sides, the respondent proceeds to pull an engagement ring out of his pocket and tried to propose to the woman trying to get an OP against him.
The judge was livid, almost had the respondent arrested for contempt. Obviously the woman had no interest in being engaged to this man. She was granted the two-year OP.
23. You, sir, are out of order
A guy was in court for a DUI and he insisted on taking the stand when his lawyer advised him not to.
Turned out he wanted the judge to know the cop who arrested him was "just some rude kid trying to be a bigshot,” and he wasn't even inebriated, he'd only had two bottles of wine with dinner.
His lawyer interrupted him to try to get him to stop talking and he told his lawyer to "shut up.”
Then the judge advised him to listen to his lawyer and he told the judge, "I'm not a child, don't interrupt me," and the judge just smiled, sat back and said, "Please, proceed.”
24. New meaning to 'taking the stage'
A family member worked as a high school teacher. Specifically, he taught technical theater (lights, sound, set design).
He took some rather expensive lighting and/or sound equipment from the school and pawned it at a nearby pawn shop.
Now, he was already on probation for a DUI at this time. Because what he took was so expensive it was a felony theft charge.
His defense was that since he pawned the equipment and didn't sell it, it wasn't really theft because he planned on returning it eventually.
He, of course, got his probation for the DUI revoked and lost his job at the school (obviously) and is still going through the process on the new felony.
25. The salad spinner
I’m a Court Clerk for a minor court. There’s one that comes to mind because I had a really hard time trying not to laugh.
The defendant was in front of the judge because she had failed to report to her probation officer and tested positive for illegal substances.
What was her defense?
Her: My salad dressing had poppy seeds in them, but I’m clean.
Judge: So you should come back negative if we test you right now?
Her: Well, I also had a supplement that had wine extract, so I will test positive for alcohol.
26. He couldn't restrain himself
I was in court with a friend who was requesting a restraining order from her ex. He was following her around months after they broke up.
While in court, her lawyer asked him if he agreed with what he was being accused of, which was following my friends around because he was still in love with my friend.
When he got up, he of course said he disagreed. He told everyone that the real reason he was following her was because he hated her entire existence. That answer made it even worse for him.
Yes, she got her restraining order. Yes, he's still angry three years later.
27. God’s plan
A woman was suing a hotel because she fell in the lobby and twisted her ankle on vacation. Just twisted, no major injury or medical bills.
She fell because there was a small step in the middle of the lobby and she was claiming it was dangerous.
The hotel's attorney asked her, “You were the last person walking in your group. Why didn't your husband or children fall over this enormous hazard?”
The woman went on this rant about how glad she was to have fallen and taken one for the team (her family). It was God's wish that she fell and exposed this horror.
The step was literally an inch and there were signs everywhere and a yellow caution strip.
28. Keep calm, it’s only prom
This happened when I was 17. I was in court after a college girl hit me at my Junior prom. She was trying to sue me for defending myself and I was there trying to get a restraining order on her.
Her defense was that the high school Junior prom should only be for Seniors with college boyfriends and girlfriends.
Because I was enjoying myself she thought she needed to teach me that I (and the rest of my graduating class) shouldn’t be there.
The judge asked if she was serious and she looked at the judge as if she was stupid and said, "What do you think?! Yes, I'm serious! Screw the Junior class, they shouldn't be there! They can't even drink!"
She was charged for assault and my restraining order was granted.
29. Casually colorblind
There was a case involving a woman that ran a light and crashed into another car.
The woman claims the light was green and that the guy ran the light, not her. But, her own dashcam disproves that the light was green for her.
Traffic cameras prove that she ran the light after a substantial (three seconds or longer) amount of time since turning red.
In her defense she said, "I can't tell the difference between red and green."
She legitimately told them that. She said she was "red/green colorblind" and that she can only see the difference sometimes. So it wasn't her fault.
She further went on to explain that the man she hit should have known this because she wasn't stopping.
He should have thought, "Hey, I bet she's colorblind and I should probably just go ahead and let her go through."
30. Flipping and flopping
Judge: Did you drive through a red signal?
Defendant: Well, technically I didn't.
Judge: Can you explain that?
Defendant: I think it was yellow when I drove through it.
Judge: So you're saying it wasn't a red light when you drove through the intersection?
Defendant: It wasn't me driving at the time, but my boyfriend would have had his license suspended for one more infraction, so I took the fall.
Judge: You understand that admitting to falsely claiming responsibility for this has a heavier penalty than the actual infraction?
Defendant: OK, I was the one driving.
Judge: Let the court note that the defendant has given inconsistent testimony and we're postponing this case for further investigation.