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posted by janrinok on Tuesday March 11 2014, @12:09PM   Printer-friendly
from the it-was-only-a-matter-of-time dept.

Papas Fritas writes:

"Scott Smith reports at AP that 26-year-old Sergio Patrick Rodriguez has been convicted of pointing a green laser at a Fresno Police Department helicopter and sentenced to spend 14 years in federal prison. 'This is not a game. It is dangerous, and it is a felony,' says US Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner. 'Those who aim lasers at aircraft should know that we will seek to convict them, and we will seek to send them to prison. The safety of aircraft and the people in them demands no less.' According to evidence presented at trial, Rodriguez and his girlfriend, Jennifer Lorraine Coleman, 23, used a high-powered green laser pointer 13 times more powerful than common pointers to repeatedly strike the cockpit of Air 1 during a clear summer night in 2012. In imposing the sentence, Judge O'Neill considered not only the severity of the offenses but Rodriguez's criminal history, numerous probation violations, and Bulldog gang affiliation. An expert said that the laser pointer that Rodriguez used was an instrument capable of inflicting serious bodily injury and death due to a high potential for crash caused by visual interference. A jury found Rodriguez guilty of attempting to interfere with safe operation of aircraft and aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft. 'Lasing aircraft is not a joke or a casual prank,' says Special Agent in Charge Monica M. Miller of the FBI's Sacramento field office. 'Rodriguez's sentence clearly demonstrates the seriousness of his actions and that the FBI will work with its law enforcement partners to locate and arrest those who engage in dangerous, improper use of hand-held lasers that puts us all at risk.'

On February 11, 2014, in 12 cities, the FBI, in collaboration with the Air Line Pilots Association International and the FAA, announced the Laser Threat Awareness campaign, a nationwide effort to alert the public to the threat that aircraft laser illumination poses and the penalties for such activity. The FBI will offer up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest of any individual who intentionally aims a laser at an aircraft. The program is being rolled out in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Houston and San Antonio, Texas; Los Angeles and Sacramento, California; Philadelphia; Phoenix, Arizona; Cleveland, Ohio; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; New York; and San Juan, Puerto Rico."

 
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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by frojack on Tuesday March 11 2014, @07:42PM

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 11 2014, @07:42PM (#14805) Journal

    Why try him for attempted murder?

    There are specific laws on the books for what he DID, which don't require you to prove INTENT.
    With murder, (especially attempted murder) you have to prove intent. That's pretty hard because you have to prove what was going on inside his brain.

    Why do you have this objection to specific prohibited acts being outlawed, rather than raising everything to the level of murder.

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  • (Score: 2) by hatta on Tuesday March 11 2014, @09:03PM

    by hatta (879) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @09:03PM (#14860)

    Why try him for attempted murder?

    Because you justified the sentence by saying it was attempted murder. Prove it.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11 2014, @09:20PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11 2014, @09:20PM (#14874)

      Why? Because it's the prosecutor who makes that call, not you. I personally would like to see crimals arrested with the maximum charge, but that's not always the case. Politics, budgets, and time constraints factor into it.

      Tldr: he's guilty, going to jail, and nothing of value was lost.

    • (Score: 1, Troll) by frojack on Tuesday March 11 2014, @10:21PM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 11 2014, @10:21PM (#14914) Journal

      Because you justified the sentence by saying it was attempted murder.

      I did no such thing.
      The prosecutor did no such thing.

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  • (Score: 1) by Hombre on Wednesday March 12 2014, @02:36AM

    by Hombre (977) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @02:36AM (#14994)

    Hmmm attempted murder. Tough one. I'm a commercial helicopter pilot. I fly low and slow. The vast majority of helos do not have an autopilot and most have just the single pilot. 500 feet is not a lot of wiggle room when bad things happen. Intentionally trying to blind me when I'm 500 feet above ground is, AFAIC, attempted murder. Well, intentional manslaughter at least, because it sure as heck is not involuntary. You wouldn't point a gun in jest at someone. You wouldn't try to run someone off the road with your car. Doing stupid stuff that you know will seriously injury or kill people generally qualifies for "attempted." So what do we call it if it's not attempted murder?

  • (Score: 1) by Spook brat on Wednesday March 12 2014, @12:29PM

    by Spook brat (775) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @12:29PM (#15212) Journal

    frojack wrote:There are specific laws on the books for what he DID, which don't require you to prove INTENT.

    This is not the situation that strict liability laws were meant for. If the police want to give you a traffic ticket because your car was illegally parked, I have no problem with that. When the police want to send you to prison for 5 years with no requirement that you even had criminal intent, I have a serious problem with that - and so should you.

    If this is a strict liability law then we're one amendment away from giving a backyard astronomer 5 years for accidentally scanning his 30 mW laser across an aircraft, same as the sociopath using a 1500 mW laser to blind pilots for fun. I don't want to live in that country.

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    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:40PM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:40PM (#15552) Journal

      So, shining the laser on TWO different helicopters was an accident.
      Just playing with the shark officer, and it went off. You're going with that?

      If you can sell that to a jury, you're golden.

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      • (Score: 1) by Spook brat on Thursday March 13 2014, @03:02AM

        by Spook brat (775) on Thursday March 13 2014, @03:02AM (#15659) Journal

        Frojack wrote:If you can sell that to a jury, you're golden.

         

        That's the problem, once you're in front of a jury on a charge with strict liability intent does not matter. Once the factual matter is decided, "I didn't mean any harm" doesn't matter - guilt is assigned, and the trial is moved on to sentencing.

         

        How is this law written? If it really is strict liability, then scanning a 5 mW laser past a plane by accident during stargazing makes you equally guilty with the sociopath who is deliberately blinding pilots with a 1500 mW laser. Same crime. No law with a 5 year penalty should be strict liability.

         

        Kudos, by the way, on the "just playing with the shark" line, that's witty =)

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        • (Score: 2) by frojack on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:43AM

          by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:43AM (#15696) Journal

          The law seems to provide plenty of leeway for both a defense lawyer and the sentencing judge.
          http://www.laserpointersafety.com/rules-general/us laws/uslaws.html#US_proposed_2005_2007_Securing_ [laserpointersafety.com]

          Knowingly: excuses the careless astronomers (who are educated enough such that they really don't do this kind of shit anyway).

          The ability to issue a fine also does not tie a judges hands.

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          • (Score: 1) by Spook brat on Friday March 14 2014, @03:20AM

            by Spook brat (775) on Friday March 14 2014, @03:20AM (#16165) Journal

            Thanks for the link, that's some good reading!

            Here's my favorite bit:

             

            . . . placing the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs in charge of enforcing sales restrictions that exceed federal standards is not likely to deter dangerous conduct, but instead will interfere with otherwise lawful commerce within New Jersey. The criminal laws already protecting New Jersey residents from the dangerous misuse of laser pointers would not be bolstered by an arbitrary one-milliwatt sales restriction that is inconsistent with federal standards.

            Accordingly, I herewith return Senate Bill No. 418 (Second Reprint) without my approval.

            Respectfully, /s/ Chris Christie
            Governor

             

            *mind blown* Common sense? In East Coast politics? From Governor Chris Christie???

            I don't know what to say. Some of my faith in humanity has been restored.

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