When you are on a plane and a crime is committed, it is a fairly unique situation. When you are up in the air, there is a very limited amount of control. Therefore, even very small incidents will be treated extremely seriously in order to keep everyone as safe as possible.
That's why there are many precautions and regulations in place for preventing incidents of unruly passenger behavior. It also becomes a more serious charge when an incident happens in the air than if the same incident happened on a bus, for example.
When an assault or theft happens on a plane, it is a federal crime. But it can be confusing in regard to which state or country is responsible for charging the offender, and how the law works in that jurisdiction. In addition, there can be certain appropriate defenses for crimes that take place on a plane.
I have been accused of committing a crime on a plane traveling between California and another destination. Where will I be charged?
The location in which a crime on a plane will be charged will typically depend on the aircraft, rather than on the destination. Jurisdiction is usually in the state where the aircraft is registered. However the Tokyo Convention also states that crimes on international flights might provide jurisdiction of the country where the offender is a citizen, if requested. It is also possible for the offender to be charged in the country where the plane lands.
What defenses are possible for minor crimes committed on a plane?
Typically, passenger crimes that occur on a plane include illegally smoking, assault and harassment. Often, the reason that the crimes are committed is intoxication of the offenders. As the accused offender, you may have a fear of flying and therefore depend on alcohol to get you through the journey, or perhaps you believe that you were over-served alcohol on the flight. Alternatively, you may have an issue where you become excessively irritable when you are trapped in small, confined spaces.
If you have been accused of committing a crime on a flight that was traveling to or departing from California, it is important that you take immediate action so that you can defend yourself.