There have been media reports about particular conduct by a public figure. These reports generally describe the conduct and say that a police complaint has been lodged regarding the conduct, but do not say which law the conduct would have violated. That is what I want to ask: Which law would the conduct have violated?

What topics can I ask about here? says:

Please don't ask questions seeking legal advice on a specific matter.

My question would be about a specific matter, but would not be seeking legal advice: I am not involved in the matter (unless I have misinterpreted the phrase “legal advice”).

What types of questions should I avoid asking? says:

You should only ask practical, answerable questions and questions about general legal information.

If I removed details about who was involved, then my question would certainly qualify. But if I included the jurisdiction, then people would probably be able to work out which story I was referring to anyway. And I would like to do this, as I am particularly interested in the law applicable in that jurisdiction.

So: Is this type of question on-topic, with or without redaction?

The closest meta questions I found were:

  1. We are getting overwhelmed with current affairs questions, which seems to suggest that it is good (or at least not bad) to ask questions about current affairs.
  2. Examples of a legal advice question and an on-topic one, whose answer suggests I have interpreted the phrase “legal advice” correctly.

I also searched the main site for questions similar to the one I want to ask, and found none. But there are many questions about at least one identifiable public figure. And I found another question about an identifiable public figure, which also refers to specific conduct. So I think the answer to my meta question here is “yes”; I am just not sure how to back it up with policy references.

3 Answers 3


Such questions are often asked and answered here, and are on-topic unless something else makes them off-topic.

A question something like:

News reports [link to one or two reliable sources] say that Celebrity A did X, Y, and Z. [Please give reasonably full details, but do not recycle the whole news story. Give enough that the question could be answered without following any links. Do indicate the location of the events.] Reports say that charges are being filed.

What law or laws would A have violated if the facts included in the reports are accurate? Are such violations often prosecuted, and do convictions often result?

Such a question is perfectly on topic, and is a way to learn about what the law is, including often what news reports tend to get wrong or over-simplify.

  • 2
    This is a good answer. I'd like to emphasize the importance of giving enough details that the question can be answered without following links: links can become outdated and break, and in particular, old news stories are often removed from their websites. We want the question to be understandable years later.
    – Ryan M
    Apr 2, 2021 at 3:28
  • This is exactly the type of question I wanted to ask, except that the matter never proceeded to charges. It was only a formal complaint to the police, who have now closed the investigation, saying there is no evidence that an offence has been committed. I might still ask a question based on the reported facts, as I did not find any similar questions. I will definitely be careful about how I state the facts – more careful than a lot of journalists have been! Apr 2, 2021 at 10:56
  • 1
    @Brian Drake Use a similar form, but instead of "charges are being field" say "a police complaint has been made" or whatever the situation is. A totally hyp[otheetical question is also perfectly proper: "If A did X what law would be violated?" Apr 2, 2021 at 15:05
  • Actually, I have already posted the question: law.stackexchange.com/q/63756/35266 Apr 2, 2021 at 15:08

Based on "Examples of a legal advice question and an on-topic one", I would conclude that you did not interpret "legal advice" correctly. The really abbreviated summary is "What should I do in this case" (request for legal advice") vs. "What is the law, given X", which is how I interpret your intended question. It is not about being "specific" it is about soliciting a recommendation. Any question has to be specific to a certain degree. As long as you describe the circumstances in question withing the post, you are probably specific enough. However, a question that presupposes facts as though they are self-evident "Did X commit a crime?" without saying what X did) is a terrible question. The point of LSE is to apply the law to a given set of facts, and it is not to force us to research the supposed facts. IMO we get way too many questions that are vague on the relevant details. Your question should (at least try to) say what the facts are. Incidentally, I also think that being explicit about "what happened" makes most the answer to legal questions self-evident (questions about taxes and regulatory procedure are systematic counterexamples).

A demand for jurisdiction information is a common automatic response, however bear in mind that people often ignore jurisdiction information and answer for a different jurisdiction. Jurisdiction limitations are a mixed blessing, and are a subcase of the need to provide just enough but not too much information (because the latter resembles "soliciting legal advice").


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