Interfering With A Flight Crew Could Land You In Trouble

Inside Airplane

It seems that at least a few times a week I read about someone flipping out on a plane. They are either yelling at the flight crew, fighting other passengers, refusing to sit down and often are arrested and carted of the plane. What I noticed is you rarely hear what happens to those people. What are they charged with? Do they go to jail? Is it a federal offense?

Penalties For Interference With Flight Crew 

The charge of interference with a flight crew member or attendant is set forth in 49 U.S. Code § 46504. The crime carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison, possible life sentence if a dangerous weapon is used. 

Neither intoxication nor other forms of diminished capacity, which often play a part in these cases, are defenses. 

Criminal Elements For Interference With Flight Crew 

  1. Was on aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the Untied States;
  2. The defendant intentionally, assaulted or intimidated a flight attendant or flight crew member; and
  3. In doing so, interfered with the performance of the duties or lessened the ability of the flight attendant or flight crew to perform those duties, or attempted or conspired to do such an act.

The defendant's act must interfere with the flight crew or attendants duties. Otherwise, the defendant should be charged with an assault. There is no requirement that the aircraft's safety be endangered. 

The crime of interference with a flight crew member or attendant is covered by U.S.S.G.§ 2A.5.2. This guideline has varying offense levels based on the mental state of the defendant and whether or not an assault was committed. Special offense characteristics issues includes the use of a firearm or dangerous weapons; the guideline instructs cross-referencing with other provisions if death occurred or the offense involved the use of a nuclear, chemical, or biological weapon or weapon of mass destruction.

*The information above is from "Defending a Federal Criminal Case" by Federal Defenders of San Diego

If You Have Questions About A Jacksonville, Florida Federal Criminal Case

Please contact Clifton Law Office, you can reach me at my contact page online or call me directly at 904-209-4883.


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