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Felony charges possible in South Carolina for using laser-pointer

On Behalf of | Jun 19, 2014 | Criminal Defense

Pointing lasers at any form of aircraft is something some South Carolina residents may do for fun, but may possibly not understand the negative effects it can have on a pilot if the laser hits their eyes. Because of the issues caused by laser-pointing, the FBI has started a national campaign in hopes of stopping this practice. Those accused of pointing lasers at an aircraft may face federal felony charges.

The FBI is currently offering a monetary award for information leading to the arrest of anyone who points a laser at an aircraft. The reward varies in its amount, but can equal up to $10,000. It is currently available at a national level for the next 90 days while the campaign is running.

Pilots who have been affected by the use of laser-pointers often endure temporary blindness, leading to the need to make emergency landings. In 2012, approximately 3,400 laser strikes against aircraft were reported nationally. In total, 127 of those occurred in South Carolina. So far, in 2014 only eight have been documented in the state thus far.

While at one point, directing lasers at an airplane may have been considered a fun game to play, the problems it can cause are becoming well-known. South Carolina residents found to have been involved in pointing lasers at an aircraft may face federal felony charges that could result in fines and/or prison time. Those accused of committing this crime have the right to defend themselves and to challenge the information provided that led to their arrest. A charge like this may be difficult to prove and any reasonable doubt raised against the validity of the claims means that a criminal conviction cannot be secured.

Source:, “FBI stresses laser-pointing at aircraft is a federal crime”, Warren L. Wise, June 11, 2014