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."
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.
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.
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 =)
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.
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 ChristieGovernor
*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.