Recently, I shared in conversation something I’ve noticed while perusing the United States Code: That particular compilation of federal statutes contains some typos. For example, Section 1101 of Title 8 reads, in relevant part:
The term “aggravated felony” means . . . a crime of violence (as defined in section 16 of title 18, but not including a purely political offense) for which the term of imprisonment at least one year . . . .
Similarly, Section 1154 of that title contains the following:
Nothing in this section shall be construed to entitle an immigrant, in behalf of whom a petition under this section is approved, to be admitted the United States as an immigrant under subsection (a), (b), or (c) of section 1153 of this title or as an immediate relative under section 1151(b) of this title if upon his arrival at a port of entry in the United States he is found not to be entitled to such classification.
Section 1201 contains a similar error:
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to entitle any alien, to whom a visa or other documentation has been issued, to be admitted the United States, if, upon arrival at a port of entry in the United States, he is found to be inadmissible under this chapter, or any other provision of law. The substance of this subsection shall appear upon every visa application.
Section 1226 provides, inter alia,
The Attorney General shall take into custody any alien who . . . is deportable under section 1227(a)(2)(A)(i) of this title on the basis of an offense for which the alien has been sentence to a term of imprisonment of at least 1 year . . . .
And under Section 1356,
One-third of the amounts deposited into the Fraud Prevention and Detection Account shall remain available to the Secretary of State until expended . . . to increase the number diplomatic security personnel assigned exclusively or primarily to the function of preventing and detecting fraud by applicants for visas . . . .
All of the above were taken from the 2006 edition of the U.S. Code, whose eighth title is available (as a 2 MB PDF) from the U.S. House of Representatives’ Office of the Law Revision Counsel. In several of the U.S. Code compilations I’ve encountered, such errors are usually pointed out by footnotes that typically read, “So in original, Probably should be [insert correct terminology here].” FWIW, when I text searched LII’s U.S. Code website for “so in original,” I got over 4,000 hits. I’m not quite sure what to make of that . . . .
Generally, I find such errors to be slightly amusing, but of little significance to whatever I’m researching. After the aforementioned conversation, however, I recalled an instance where a statutory typo yielded a slightly more consequential outcome than mere humor: an acquittal in a criminal trial. In 2010, while a stopped school bus was unloading kids, a driver drove right past that particular school bus. The driver was charged with reckless driving, but acquitted because the Virginia law under which he was charged read, in relevant part,
A person is guilty of reckless driving who fails to stop, when approaching from any direction, any school bus which is stopped on any highway, private road or school driveway for the purpose of taking on or discharging children . . . .
. . . and of course the driver in question had not “fail[ed] to stop . . . any school bus which is stopped . . . .” As related in this rather amusing Washington Post article (HT Orin Kerr), the driver’s lawyer took the case before the Fairfax Circuit Court, pointed to the statutory text, cited Virginia Supreme Court precedent, introduced a GMU English professor’s grammatical analysis of the statute, and won a judicial acquittal. Both the judge and defense attorney agreed, however, that the law was flawed and in need of correction.
A person driving a motor vehicle shall stop such vehicle when approaching, from any direction, any school bus which is stopped on any highway, private road or school driveway for the purpose of taking on or discharging children . . . and shall remain stopped until all the persons are clear of the highway, private road or school driveway and the bus is put in motion; any person violating the foregoing is guilty of reckless driving.
Now if only Congress could fix that “zone of death” out west . . . .
 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43) (2006) (emphasis added) (footnote omitted).
 Id. § 1154(e) (emphasis added) (footnote omitted).
 Id. § 1201(h) (emphasis added) (footnote omitted).
 Id. § 1226(c)(1) (emphasis added) (footnote omitted).
 Id. § 1356(v)(2)(A) (emphasis added) (footnote omitted).
 Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-859 (2006).
 See Act of Mar. 22, 2011, Ch. 326, § 1, available at http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?111+ful+CHAP0326+pdf.
 Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-859 (2011).
 See Brian C. Kalt, The Perfect Crime, 93 Geo. L.J. 675 (2004-2005), available at http://digitalcommons.law.msu.edu/facpubs/19/. Three years later, Professor Kalt published a follow-up article discussing his failed attempts at lobbying Congress to fix this problem. See Brian C. Kalt, Tabloid Constitutionalism: How a Bill Doesn’t Become a Law, 96 Geo. L.J. 1971 (2008), available at http://digitalcommons.law.msu.edu/facpubs/20/.