Pointing a laser at an aircraft in California may lead to criminal charges. Prosecutors use Penal Code 247.5 to prosecute this act. PC 247.5 is a “wobbler.” This means individuals may face misdemeanor or felony charges for an offense.
Call (310) 997-4688 to speak with a member of the Simmrin Law Group. We can help you learn more about the results of a conviction for a PC 247.5 violation. We also cover the legal defenses you can use to fight this charge.
The Charges for Pointing a Laser at an Aircraft
Individuals may face criminal charges if they point a laser at an aircraft. However, there are some restrictions on PC 247.5 charges. For example, these charges only apply if someone points a laser at an occupied aircraft while the aircraft is:
- In motion, or
- In flight
Additionally, individuals must act willfully to face PC 247.5 charges. This means charges should not apply if someone accidentally pointed a laser towards an aircraft. People must also act maliciously, or with the intent to cause harm or damage.
The term “aircraft” is a broad one in California. It can refer to commercial or private aircraft, even helicopters. Any craft that moves people through the air can be classified as an aircraft.
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PC 247.5 Charges in California
Consider the following examples to better understand the charges for pointing a laser at an aircraft in California:
Man A drives out to an airport with some friends. They recently got a laser pointer and want to see if they can distract a pilot and cause a crash. They shine it in at an aircraft while it taxis. They could face charges for pointing the laser at the aircraft.
Man B is experimenting with a new laser pointer while driving around. He accidentally shines it towards an airport and onto an airplane. However, he did not intentionally use the laser on the plane. He may be able to avoid a conviction under PC 247.5.
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Charges Similar to PC 247.5 Offenses
There are additional charges which are similar to PC 247.5 in California. Individuals could end up facing criminal charges for:
- Shining a light at an aircraft to interfere with operations
- Pointing a laser scope at another person
These charges should receive serious consideration here in California. Convictions of these charges could lead to incarceration and fines. Get more information by contacting a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer today.
Outcomes of a Conviction for PC 247.5
The crime of pointing a laser at an aircraft is a wobbler. This means the prosecution can choose to treat a PC 247.5 charge as a misdemeanor or a felony. Felony charges are more serious than misdemeanor accusations. A misdemeanor conviction could result in:
- Fines of up to $1,000
- Jail time of up to one year
Individuals face harsher charges for a felony conviction. In some cases, felony convictions for pointing a laser at an aircraft could lead to:
- Fines of up to $2,000
- Prison time of up to three years
A judge may order probation for either a misdemeanor or felony charge. Probation is given instead of time behind bars in some cases. While on probation, individuals are required to adhere to rules handed down by the court. Failure to follow the rules could lead to a probation violation.
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Defenses for Pointing a Laser at an Aircraft
The results of a conviction for a PC 247.5 violation are very serious. However, you do not have to just accept these charges. Contact a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles right away to get help. Your lawyer may build your case by working to show that:
You Did Not Shine a Laser at an Aircraft
PC 247.5 charges only apply if you shine a laser at an aircraft. Your lawyer may work to show that you pointed a laser at something else. For example, perhaps you pointed a laser at a car or a truck. PC 247.5 charges do not apply in this situation.
You Were Not Acting Maliciously
Individuals must act intentionally and maliciously to face a PC 247.5 conviction. This means that accidental use of a laser should not result in a conviction. Perhaps you did not realize you were aiming a laser at an aircraft.
Talk to a Lawyer About PC 247.5 Charges
Get legal help from the Simmrin Law Group if you are accused of pointing a laser at an aircraft. Let us help if you’re charged under Penal Code 247.5. Find out more with a free consultation by calling us at (310) 997-4688. You may also complete our online contact form.