Legal Blog

Misdemeanor Criminal Charges Arise Out of Drone Use In Downtown Los Angeles

Published on January 21, 2016

On January 21, the City of Los Angeles announced the first criminal charges against a drone operator. City Attorney Mike Feuer said that the two defendants, who are 20 and 35 years old respectively, will face misdemeanor charges. For the younger defendant, this is the second time he allegedly flew his drone in restricted areas.

It is a misdemeanor under Los Angeles law for an individual to operate a drone within five miles of an airport, 25 feet of a person, or in excess of 500 feet in the air. Besides having a misdemeanor on one’s personal record, this may also result in up to six months in jail and a fine. The Los Angeles drone ordinance is posted here: LA Regulations on Unmanned Aircraft Systems, which can be found online.

According to the City Attorney’s office, the defendants operated a drone near the Los Angeles Police Department’s helipad in downtown LA, and the presence of the drone required a police air vehicle to divert from its intended landing path.

Legislatures and local government entities are passing drone laws with increasing frequency, although enforcement with criminal sanctions has been rare so far. As technology has developed, drones have become more and more sophisticated and are now posing significant dangers to airborne aircraft and even people who may inadvertently come into contact with a drone flying at a very low altitude.

It is unclear at this early state what, if any, defenses are being raised by those charged with the drone laws. The Los Angeles city ordinance (cited above) does not mention the required mental state of the defendant. This could mean that, unless a court interprets an implied required mental state, the defendant may not be able to argue that the drone’s entrance into the five-mile area near the airport was an accident.

Talk to a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer

Aaron Spolin, a former prosecutor, and award-winning Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer, has a track record of success handling violent crime cases. He has been on the winning side of hundreds of cases. To receive a 100% free and confidential consultation from an attorney or staff member today, please call this number: (310) 424-5816.

Categories: Criminal Law

Latest Update on Venice Beach Shooting of Homeless Man

Published on January 13, 2016

In the latest update on the Venice Beach police shooting of a homeless man, the Los Angeles Police Chief has called for charges against the officer involved, Officer Clifford Proctor.

By way of background, in May of 2015 amidst the national discussion of police conduct, Officer Proctor shot Brendon Glenn, a homeless man who was not armed. Proctor had forced Glenn to the ground and, according to LAPD investigators, Proctor shot Glenn twice in the back when Glenn attempted to push himself up.

You can read the most recent Los Angeles Times story here: L.A. Police Chief Beck backs charges against the officer who fatally shot Venice homeless man, L.A. Times, Kate Mather, January 11, 2016.

Officer Proctor initially reported that Glen was attempting to take Proctor’s weapon and that he fired in self-defense. However, based on a review of forensic evidence and eyewitness reports, the LAPD investigators determined that Glenn did not make a movement directly towards Proctor’s gun but was merely pushing himself up off of the ground. These findings are what prompted LAPD Chief Charlie Beck to recommend criminal charges.

If charges are filed, it will be the first time in 15 years that the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office has filed charges against an officer for an on-duty shooting.

The District Attorney’s Office has not specified whether they will charge Proctor, but his conduct could fall under one of a number of homicide crimes under the California Penal Code. CA Penal Code section 187 defines murder as “the unlawful killing of a human being or a fetus with malice aforethought.” Malice includes acts where the offender intended to kill the victim, knew his actions would kill the victim, or acted with “conscious disregard for human life.” Proctor could also face charges for lesser homicide and non-homicide offenses.

LAPD Chief Beck does not have final authority over whether Proctor is prosecuted. District Attorney Jackie Lacey will make that decision. However, it does not bode well for Proctor that his chief has recommended charges.

Talk to a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer

Aaron Spolin, a former prosecutor, and award-winning criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles, has a track record of success handling violent crime cases. He has been on the winning side of hundreds of cases. To receive a 100% free and confidential consultation from an attorney or staff member today, please call this number: (310) 407-7348.

Categories: Violent Crimes, Weapon Offenses

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