Federal law makes it a crime for you to aim a laser pointer at an airplane. The offense is punishable by a federal prison sentence of up to five years and substantial fines. Please contact a skilled criminal defense attorney now if you or a loved one is facing criminal charges under federal law.

What is the Federal Law on Aiming a Laser Pointer at an Aircraft?

18 U.S. Code 39A is the federal statute that sets forth the law regarding laser pointers and aircraft. According to this law, it is a crime if you either:

  1. Knowingly aim a laser pointer at an aircraft, or
  2. Knowingly aim a laser pointer at the flight path of an aircraft.

For purposes of this statute, a “laser pointer” means any device designed or used to amplify electromagnetic radiation by stimulated emission that emits a beam designed to be used by the operator as a pointer or highlighter to indicate, mark, or identify a specific position, place, item, or object.

Note that the reason for this law is to help protect public safety. A laser pointer can temporarily blind a pilot, putting that person and the passengers on his/her airplane at risk.

What are the Penalties?

A conviction under 18 U.S. Code 39A is a serious offense. The crime is punishable by custody in federal prison for up to five years. You could also face fines from the Federal Aviation Administration of up to $11,000 per violation, and up to $30,800 for multiple incidents.

Can a Defendant Raise a Legal Defense?

Yes. People charged with aiming a laser pointer at an airplane can contest the charge with a legal defense. For example, recall that you are only guilty of this offense if you acted knowingly. A defense, then, is for you to show that you had no knowledge of aiming a laser pointer at a plane. Maybe, for instance, you aimed a pointer at a plane on accident.

Also note that 18 U.S. Code 39A only applies to aircraft. A solid defense, therefore, is for you to say that while you may have aimed a laser pointer, you did so at a vehicle or some other object that was not an aircraft.

Contact Black & Askerov for Help

While a defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge a crime involving a laser pointer, it will take a skilled criminal defense attorney to raise the best defense. The experienced federal crime attorneys at Black & Askerov have over 30 years of combined experience defending clients on various federal charges. Our Seattle criminal defense lawyers also have the skill and commitment that makes all the difference in these cases. Our attorneys will fight tooth and nail for you at every step of your case. Contact us now to get the legal help you deserve!