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The Street Law Handbook

The Street Law Handbook is fun to read and will teach you something at the same time. The core premise of this book is that while we may be interested in big court cases, and watching a lot of Law & Order on TV, a lot of what people really want to know is “What is likely to get me in trouble, and how much trouble will I be in?” Viswanathan takes a handbook-type approach to this problem and tackles infractions such as drug laws, sex/nudity/decency laws and basic petty crimes. She discusses what the infractions are like, how the laws vary from state to state and what sort of penalties you are likely to get for them in major cities across the US.

While this book is not a “how to” handbook of how to get in trouble, it defintely does give you some how-to-do-it advice, particularly about drugs which was an odd side note to an otherwise fairly legalistic book. She uses many examples to highlight various trouble people could get in and made the unfortunate style-decision to use jokey type pseudonyms for the people involved which overall lowered the tone of the book which otherwise tried to give good legal advice, albeit in an informal manner. Anyone who reads the papers, in many cases, would have known who she was writing about anyhow, so going to lengths to call your characters Jack and Jill when everyone knows she’s talking about Mary Kay Letourneau seemed weird and stilted.