24/7 call for a free consultation 212-300-5196

AS SEEN ON

EXPERIENCEDTop Rated

YOU MAY HAVE SEEN TODD SPODEK ON THE NETFLIX SHOW
INVENTING ANNA

When you’re facing a federal issue, you need an attorney whose going to be available 24/7 to help you get the results and outcome you need. The value of working with the Spodek Law Group is that we treat each and every client like a member of our family.

Client Testimonials

5

THE BEST LAWYER ANYONE COULD ASK FOR.

The BEST LAWYER ANYONE COULD ASK FOR!!! Todd changed our lives! He’s not JUST a lawyer representing us for a case. Todd and his office have become Family. When we entered his office in August of 2022, we entered with such anxiety, uncertainty, and so much stress. Honestly we were very lost. My husband and I felt alone. How could a lawyer who didn’t know us, know our family, know our background represents us, When this could change our lives for the next 5-7years that my husband was facing in Federal jail. By the time our free consultation was over with Todd, we left his office at ease. All our questions were answered and we had a sense of relief.

schedule a consultation

Blog

Penal Code 247.5 PC | Pointing a Laser at an Aircraft

Penal Code 247.5 PC | Pointing a Laser at an Aircraft

Shining a laser pointer at an airplane might seem harmless, but it can actually be very dangerous and lead to criminal charges. Penal Code 247.5 PC makes it illegal in California to maliciously point a laser at an occupied aircraft that’s moving or in flight. Let’s break down what this law means and what the consequences are if you violate it.

What Does California Law Say About Pointing Lasers at Aircraft?

The specific language of Penal Code 247.5 PC states:

Any person who willfully and maliciously discharges a laser at an aircraft, whether in motion or in flight, while occupied, is guilty of a violation of this section, which shall be punishable as either a misdemeanor by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year or by a fine of one thousand dollars ($1,000), or a felony by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for 16 months, two years, or three years, or by a fine of two thousand dollars ($2,000).

Let’s break this down into the key elements of the crime:

  • You aimed a laser pointer at an aircraft like a plane or helicopter
  • The aircraft was occupied and moving or in flight when you pointed the laser
  • You acted willfully and maliciously, meaning you intended to point the laser at the aircraft

The motivation doesn’t matter – whether you did it as a prank or to try to bring down the aircraft, pointing a laser at an occupied moving aircraft is against the law. And “aircraft” includes any device intended for transporting people through airspace, including commercial planes, private planes, and helicopters.

Why Is This Illegal?

Pointing a laser at an aircraft is extremely dangerous. When aimed at a plane’s cockpit, the bright light from a laser pointer can temporarily blind or disorient the pilots. This impairs their ability to fly the plane safely and could even cause them to crash.

There have been thousands of laser strikes on aircraft reported in the U.S. While most don’t result in crashes, there have been some close calls. In 2005, a police helicopter almost crashed in New Jersey when a laser pointed into the cockpit completely blinded the pilot.[1]

So while it may seem like a harmless prank, shining a laser pointer at an aircraft puts lives in danger. That’s why there are serious legal consequences for doing so.

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
2024-03-21
Just had my Divorce case settled 2 months ago after having a horrible experience with another firm. I couldn’t be happier with Claire Banks and Elizabeth Garvey with their outstanding professionalism in doing so with Spodek Law Group. Any time I needed questions answered they were always prompt in doing so with all my uncertainties after 30 yrs of marriage.I feel from the bottom of my heart you will NOT be disappointed with either one. Thanks a million.
Brendan huisman
Brendan huisman
2024-03-18
Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
2024-03-18
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
Keisha Parris
Keisha Parris
2024-03-15
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko Beauty
Taïko Beauty
2024-03-15
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
Anthony Williams
Anthony Williams
2024-03-12
Hey, how you guys doing? Good afternoon my name is Anthony Williams I just want to give a great shout out to the team of. Spodek law group. It is such a honor to use them and to use their assistance through this whole case from start to finish. They did everything that they said they was gonna do and if it ever comes down to it, if I ever have to use them again, hands-down they will be the first law office at the top of my list, thank you guys so much. It was a pleasure having you guys by my side so if you guys ever need them, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and give them a call.
Loveth Okpedo
Loveth Okpedo
2024-03-12
Very professional, very transparent, over all a great experience
Bee L
Bee L
2024-02-28
Amazing experience with Spodek! Very professional lawyers who take your case seriously. They treated me with respect, were always available, and answered any and all questions. They were able to help me very successfully and removed a huge stress. Highly recommend.
divesh patel
divesh patel
2024-02-24
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.

What Are the Penalties for Violating PC 247.5?

A violation of PC 247.5 is a wobbler offense, which means prosecutors have discretion to charge it as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances. Here are the potential penalties:

  • Misdemeanor: Up to 1 year in county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
  • Felony: 16 months, 2 years or 3 years in county jail, a fine of up to $2,000, or both.

Factors that determine whether the DA will seek a misdemeanor or felony charge include:

  • Did the laser actually strike the aircraft?
  • What was the strength of the laser?
  • How many times did you point the laser?
  • Were there any injuries or damage?

In addition to jail time and fines, a conviction will give you a criminal record that could affect your job prospects, military service, and more. And you may have to surrender any laser pointers in your possession.

Legal Defenses to Pointing a Laser at an Aircraft

Being charged with PC 247.5 is serious, but the prosecution still has to prove all the elements of the crime. As a defendant, you have several legal defenses that could get the charges against you reduced or dismissed. Some common defenses include:

  • No malicious intent – You have to willfully and maliciously point the laser at the aircraft to be guilty. If it was an accident or you didn’t realize planes were nearby, you may not have criminal intent.
  • No actual aircraft – The law only applies to aircraft in motion or flight. Shining a laser at a building or car wouldn’t qualify.
  • Duress – If someone forced or threatened you to point the laser, you may argue you acted under duress.
  • Mistaken identity – If the prosecution can’t prove definitively it was you who pointed the laser, the charges could be dropped.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer can evaluate the details of your case and decide the best defense strategy to pursue.

Related Offenses

In addition to PC 247.5, there are other similar laws in California prohibiting pointing bright lights and lasers in situations that could cause harm, including:

  • PC 417.25 – Pointing a laser scope at another person
  • PC 417.26 – Pointing a laser pointer at a peace officer
  • PC 417.27 – Pointing a laser pointer at an occupied vehicle other than an aircraft

Violating these laws may also lead to fines, jail time, and a criminal record. An attorney can help advise you on the specific charges you may be facing.

Conclusion

Shining a laser at an aircraft might seem fun and harmless at first. But it’s extremely dangerous and against California law. If you’re facing charges under PC 247.5, don’t take it lightly. Hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer to protect your rights. They can evaluate your case and build the strongest defense to achieve the best possible outcome.

The penalties for this wobbler offense can be severe. But with an attorney on your side guiding you through the legal process, you have a much better chance of avoiding jail time and heavy fines. Don’t leave the outcome to chance – get legal help fighting these charges today.

References

[1] https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/the-dangers-of-laser-strikes-on-aircraft-080819

 

Lawyers You Can Trust

Todd Spodek

Founding Partner

view profile

RALPH P. FRANCHO, JR

Associate

view profile

JEREMY FEIGENBAUM

Associate Attorney

view profile

ELIZABETH GARVEY

Associate

view profile

CLAIRE BANKS

Associate

view profile

RAJESH BARUA

Of-Counsel

view profile

CHAD LEWIN

Of-Counsel

view profile

Criminal Defense Lawyers Trusted By the Media

schedule a consultation
Schedule Your Consultation Now