Believe it or not, it's a crime to shine a light at a helicopter operator under California Penal Code Section 248. This is obvious because obviously, you don't want helicopters falling out of the sky. If you're charged with shining some sort of a light or bright object at a helicopter and you need some help, give me a call and we can sit down and talk about it.
One of the main things the prosecutor will need to prove in order to prove this particular crime is that you had the intent to impair the operator. In other words, you were trying to somehow blind them, so they wouldn't be able to properly operate the helicopter. Why somebody would do this is beyond me.
I guess sometimes people do stupid things. Maybe it's a joke, but this is obviously a serious crime. If you're charged with it, you need a good defense attorney to represent you.
Defenses to Shining a Light at a Helicopter Operator
One defense would be that you didn't do it intentionally. In other words, if somehow you had a light and it accidentally went into the eyes of the helicopter operator, this could be a defense if you did not have the intent to do it.
This is a crucial element. That means this is really akin to a specific intent crime, meaning that you have to specifically intend to impair the helicopter operator.
Then the question becomes, how are they going to prove what's inside your mind. They're probably going to have to do that if you don't admit it, either to a witness or to the police when they come to talk to you about it, by the surrounding circumstances of whatever happened.
For example, if somebody has a huge light – maybe one of those lights that you use to promote a business – and they're trying to shine that light and following the helicopter around with the light – you could infer from the facts and circumstances of that situation that the person was intentionally trying to blind the helicopter operator.
If on the other hand, you have the light up there and you had a legitimate purpose for having the light up there and the helicopter operator just happened to fly into the zone where the light was, and the light wasn't being moved or tracked around where the helicopter operator was, then obviously, that's not going to be an intentional crime and you would not be able to be prosecuted for Penal Code Section 248.
Reviewing Your Case For Best Outcome
If you are charged with any type of violation involving Penal Code Section 248, what you need to do is get in front of an attorney. Give him all the facts and details of your case so they can begin the process of getting a defense together for you.
Not all defenses require that the person have a jury trial and let a jury decide whether they are innocent or guilty. Sometimes the defense is strategically trying to work out a resolution with the prosecutors.
Maybe you did something wrong – you weren't supposed to – but you really didn't have the intent to hurt anyone, then in that case obviously you want to get a criminal defense attorney.
What I have you do is come and sit down with me. We'll go over everything in the privacy of my office. I ask you to give me the information honestly without putting any type of a spin on it and we really go through things step-by-step, and then that gives me the ammunition that I need to give your version of events to the police, prosecutor and the judge, because a lot of times the police and even the prosecutors will jump to conclusions about what happened – just assume you're guilty, assume the worst about you – without having all the facts and details at their fingertips. So, it's your criminal defense attorney's job to get those details from you and to put them in front of the prosecutor and judge in such a way that they understand your side of things.
Also, we get mitigation letters and I send the letter to the boss of the prosecutors before I meet with them, laying out all of the things from the defense standpoint, for example, if you have a job, if you've otherwise led a law-abiding life, then obviously that puts you in a good position to attempt to avoid any type of serious conviction, any jail time, and get things set up so that eventually you can get this matter dismissed and move on with your life and pursue your career.