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Federal Offenses in Airports or Airlines


A Florida man on a flight from Seattle to Beijing was recently arrested on charges of interfering with flight crew members and attendants, as reported by The Seattle Times. According to witnesses, he allegedly lunged for the emergency door latch and attempted to open the door while in flight. Fortunately, the door did not budge because, due to the altitude they were currently flying at, it could have opened fully had it not been disarmed.

Flight Gets Turned Around During Fist Fight

Flight attendants stepped in to stop the defendant, who punched the attendants in the face multiple times and causing serious facial injuries. The defendant allegedly went back to the door and managed to get the emergency lever half way pulled open before he was tackled once more. Passengers came up to protect the flight attendants and to stop him from opening the door, at which point the defendant was hit in the head with a one-liter bottle of wine. The defendant allegedly had already used wine bottles as a weapon and had hit a flight attendant in the head earlier. After being hit in the head so hard that the wine bottle broke, he still fought on and even said to the man who had hit him, “Do you know who I am?”

The Defendant Faces up to 20 Years in Prison

Despite the number of passengers and flight crew attempting to subdue him, the defendant allegedly continued thrashing violently and required multiple people to hold him down. The flight crew used zip ties to restrain him as well. Earlier, the captain had been notified and had already turned the plane back around to the Seattle airport. Extensive damage was caused to the interior of plane during the fight. The defendant was wheeled out of the plan in a wheelchair, screaming for help and demanding to be let go after flipping the chair over in the middle of the airport. He is charged with the federal offense of interfering with flight crew members and attendants under 49 U.S. Code § 46503. He is currently facing up to 20 years in prison and maximum fine of $250,000. It is not known what his intentions were by opening the door, other than attempting to commit suicide.

49 U.S. Code § 46503  

Code 46503 states that any person who assaults a federal, airport, or airline employee and in so doing interferes with their duties or hampers their ability to perform their duties, faces up to 10 years in prison. However, if a deadly weapon is used, they could face up to life in prison. Because the defendant allegedly assaulted two airline attendants, he is facing 20 years. It could be argued that he used a deadly weapon (the wine bottle). Other charges could potentially arise from the assault of the other passengers.

Contact a West Palm Beach Attorney at Once

Federal offenses committed in airports or commercial jets should never be taken lightly. Contact the West Palm Beach law offices of the Skier Law Firm today for professional legal defense.



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