Fairfax weapons defense lawyer on airport prosecutions
Fairfax weapons defense lawyer on defending against airport weapons prosecutions and related TSA fines and airline barring orders
Fairfax weapons charges and all charges for weapons offenses need to be treated seriously and aggressively by criminal defendants. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I know warn any weapons conviction is serious. My office is a close drive to the two major Northern Virginia airports, where consequently some of my clients get charged with the crime of bringing a weapon (for instance a firearm, knife or other blade) through airport security, and even making an alleged bomb or other weapon threat. Pouring salt into the prosecutorial wound comes if the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA, a division of the Department of Homeland Security) sends a notice seeking a hefty fine for such an alleged offense, and if the involved airline notifies the customer that they are no longer welcomed on that airline.
How do I avoid getting charged with an airport weapons offense? Fairfax weapons lawyer weighs in
Virginia law is very liberal for granting concealed carry handgun permits and for permitting open carrying of weapons. As a Fairfax weapons defense lawyer, I know that this can lead to oversights about carrying weapons into airports, states and other places where doing so is a crime. You will be held responsible for every single item you bring into the airport. Do not trust others to pack your bags, lest they slip in a weapon, drugs, or other contraband. It is not farfetched to find out another person slipped contraband into your baggage, for instance if it is a travel companion doing your packing, or if the packer wants a friend or family member to receive the contraband after arrival at the destination. And then there are the mischievous, or worse, folks who get a kick out of setting someone up for a criminal arrest, prosecution and possible conviction.
Should I answer questions about the weapon found in my luggage?
It is dangerous ever to waive your right to remain silent with police and any government agency or other entity that will report you to the police or might testify against you in criminal court. However, as a Fairfax weapons lawyer, I will not say that you will not help yourself by answering investigative questions by honestly, accurately and persuasively confirming that your bringing a weapon to the airport was an honest oversight with an otherwise lawfully possessed weapon. Nonetheless, such an admission is not a guarantee of a desirable result. This blog is not advice, and I have not advised client suspects to speak with law enforcement without my presence, and rarely suggest they speak with police even if in my presence.
How do I defend against an airport weapons prosecution?
As with all criminal prosecutions, early on your criminal defense lawyer should assess the extent to which the prosecution can even prove the charge against you. For instance, does the alleged weapon fit the definition of weapons that are prohibited in an airport terminal? Virginia Code § 18.2-287.01-287.01. Carrying weapon in air carrier airport terminal. Did the defendant joke that s/he had a bomb, versus claiming that the bomb would or might be detonated? Virginia Code § 18.2-83. Nobody should test such defenses by pursuing getting arrested. These ideas from me as a Fairfax weapons lawyer are only meant to apply if you have been criminally charged with such offenses.
I received a fine-demanding letter from the TSA. What should I do?
Independent from any criminal weapons prosecution, the TSA may delivery to you a letter demanding a hefty fine (in the $thousands) for your alleged offense. Do not ignore timely and persuasively responding to such letters, because the TSA may aggressively pursue this in court, and I have as a Fairfax weapons lawyer successfully negotiated significantly lower fines with TSA by pointing out the lack of relevant criminal convictions for my client, as well as showing the taking of a weapons safety class and doing substantial community service. The TSA lawyer may also be swayed by seeing the significant legal bill that the defendant already owes to his or her criminal defense lawyer. Make sure a lawyer communicates for you with the TSA, lest your words come back to haunt you and bite you in the butt. A bonus to the bitterness of receiving a TSA fine letter is that the TSA will often provide your criminal defense lawyer information s/he seeks about your case pursuant to the federal Freedom of Information Act / Privacy Act, which may include critical information that your lawyer does not receive from the prosecution. Your lawyer will want to track the relevant Privacy Act law to provide a waiver signed by your that authorizes your criminal defense lawyer to receive such information.
My airline now bans me because of this criminal prosecution. What should I do?
If the airline you were using in relation to your criminal prosecution bans you from using their airline any further, ask your criminal defense lawyer for help. The airline may not agree to change its mind without getting a written statement from you. Make sure that your lawyer talks with you about balancing your criminal defense rights and interest in resuming using that airline, together with whether the prosecution will ever see your statement(s) to the airline (which you need to have your lawyer edit) in the first place. As a Fairfax weapons lawyer, I provide such assistance ancillary to defending against the pending prosecution.
Fairfax criminal lawyer Jonathan Katz has successfully defended hundreds of people accused of Virginia DUI, felony and misdemeanor offenses. Go to court fully prepared for your best defense, with Jon Katz leading the charge. Call 703-383-1100 for your free in-person initial consultation with Jon about your court-pending case.