break a/the law

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break a/the law

To do something that is illegal. If you shoplift, you are breaking the law, period. The statutes are different in different places so sometimes you can break a law without even knowing it!
See also: break, law
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

break a law

 and break the law
to fail to obey a law; to act contrary to a law. Lisa broke the law when she drove the wrong way on a one-way street. If you never break the law, you will never get arrested.
See also: break, law
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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References in classic literature ?
Davis had declared limes a contraband article, and solemnly vowed to publicly ferrule the first person who was found breaking the law. This much-enduring man had succeeded in banishing chewing gum after a long and stormy war, had made a bonfire of the confiscated novels and newspapers, had suppressed a private post office, had forbidden distortions of the face, nicknames, and caricatures, and done all that one man could do to keep half a hundred rebellious girls in order.
"That Crooked Magician is breaking the Law by practicing magic without a license, and I'm not sure Ozma will allow him to restore your uncle to life."
I am by no means perfect, but I am not naturally cruel, neither do I take pleasure in breaking the law. I admit that the treatment of my horse is calculated to give your Highness a bad opinion of me, and to set an evil example to others; yet I have not chastised it without reason, and I have hopes that I shall be judged more worthy of pity than punishment."
"If there is any guilt in the case!" answered Allworthy warmly: "Are you then so profligate and abandoned a libertine to doubt whether the breaking the laws of God and man, the corrupting and ruining a poor girl be guilt?
Commenting on the case, Li Chung-tai, New Taipei Traffic Adjudication Office chief, said tickets are issued with the purpose of deterring drivers from breaking the law.
The Conservative Government's leaflet supporting Remain and issued a month before the referendum could be argued came close to breaking the law but didn't cross that line.
and suggest he advocated breaking the law! He would never have broken the law," he insisted.
'The story of every bank that has had problems, be they indigenous Ghanaian banks or international banks, like Barings Bank, Lehman Brothers, Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), each one can be traced to someone or some people breaking the law, or trying to cut corners by flouting regulations,' he said.
"I was not breaking the law, which brings us back to breaking a few hearts, which I sincerely regret.
ECHO readers and social media users are at odds over who is to blame, after a woman was told she was breaking the law by parking on her own driveway.
Lakini hao wengine pigia mdosi ama Waita (I am breaking the law by securing the release of our wife.
Summary: Rohtas (Bihar) [India], July 22 (ANI): Breaking the law, the convoy of Janata Dal (United) MLA Ramchandra Prasad Singh along with his supporters crossed the toll bridge on National Highway in Rohtas without paying tax on Saturday.
Trading Standards caught one in four retailers breaking the law.
Whilst some may suggest the figures have fallen because less cyclists are breaking the law, that is clearly total nonsense.