Federal law makes it a crime for you to commit certain acts aboard an aircraft. For example, you commit a criminal offense if you interfere with crew members by means of assault or intimidation. These crimes are serious offenses that can result in decades in federal prison. Please contact a skilled criminal defense attorney now if you are facing any charge under federal law.

What Are the Federal Laws on Crimes on Planes?

The federal government regulates aviation activities nationwide. As a result, crimes involving planes and airports are usually prosecuted in federal courts.

There are numerous charges you could face when misbehaving and causing trouble on an airplane. Perhaps the most severe crime involves piracy, which means violently seizing control of a plane in flight.

Other types of airplane crimes prosecuted under federal law include:

  • Interference with crew members or attendants through assault or intimidation,
  • Interference with airport security screeners through assault,
  • Possessing or placing a weapon or explosive on a plane, and
  • Conduct that would constitute any of certain enumerated crimes (such as assault, murder, manslaughter, theft, robbery, or sexual abuse) if it occurred on an airplane that was located in the U.S.

What Are the Penalties?

The specific penalties for crimes on an airplane will depend on the particular crime you commit and the facts of the case.

With that said, penalties for the above offenses include:

  • Piracy – a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years (life imprisonment or the death penalty if a death resulted),
  • Interfering with crew members or attendantsa maximum term of 20 years, but no maximum if a dangerous weapon was involved,
  • Interfering with airport security screeners – a maximum term of 10 years, but no maximum if a dangerous weapon was involved, and
  • Possessing or placing a weapon or explosive on a plane – a maximum term of 10 years, but 20 years if the behavior showed a disregard for human life and no maximum if a death resulted.

Can a Defendant Raise a Legal Defense?

Yes. People charged with an airplane crime can contest the charge with a legal defense. A common defense in these cases is for your criminal defense attorney to show that somehow the authorities violated your constitutional rights. Your lawyer can generally make this showing if the police:

  • Coerced a confession,
  • Arrested you without probable cause, or
  • Conducted an unlawful search or seizure.

Contact Black & Askerov for Help

While a defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge a charge of an airplane crime, 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 bribery offenses. 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!