Is there a term for laws or regulations that are written to refer to other rules in the set such that breaking one also breaks other laws? An example is easiest way to show what I am describing:

  1. Always drive at or less than 25 mph
  2. Always follow rule #1
  3. Follow all rules in this set

In this case, if one drives 30 mph, it breaks rule #1. However, it also breaks rules #2 and #3. Is this allowed? Is there a legal term to argue against it?

1 Answer 1


It is certainly possible for the same action to break multiple laws, and be chargeable as multiple crimes. For example, shooting and killing someone may be assault, assault with a deadly weapon, and murder all at the same time. For a different example a person who simply omits to file an income tax return may be guilty of both failure to file a required return, and failure to pay tax due, and in some cases failure to par required estimated tax due as well. For yet another example, driving well above the speed limit may be a violation of the speed limit law, and also careless driving, and possibly also reckless driving.

In the first case the assault etc may be lesser included offenses in the charge of murder. That means that they are automatically available to a jury (or judge) trying the accused, who can convict on one of the lesser included charges if they do not convict on the primary count. For the more general case, I don't know of any special term for the situation.

It is not usual to have law A which says "do not do X", and also law B which says "you must follow law A". There is no general principle against having such redundant laws, nor is there, in the US, any Constitutional rule against such laws. But legislatures do not normally bother to enact such redundant laws. Laws which will sometimes overlap in their coverage, but in some cases do not overlap are common.

  • 1
    Probably the most common "overlap" is when law 2 is just setting out the penalty for violating the class of laws that law 1 belongs to.
    – cpast
    Commented Mar 17, 2019 at 23:16
  • 2
    @cpast, In that case I would think of it not as two different laws, but as simply two sections or provisions of a single law. Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 2:12
  • 1
    depending on the law area, sometimes might be a law saying "§## Code violations are fined with $ ###" and a different lawbook says "Driving 200 mph is a code violation under §##" -
    – Trish
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 17:26

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