Home > It's A Legal Matter > Drones Ė careful where you fly that thing

Drones Ė careful where you fly that thing

By Jeff Terrill

Fort Wayne Reader

2017-06-19


Many new laws will hit the books on July 1. A few of those new laws criminalize certain behaviors involving the use of drones Ė also referred to as unmanned aerial vehicles. Several hundred thousand drone owners in the U.S. are registered with the Federal Aviation Administration. Drone ownership continues to rise each year.

Meet Steve and John. They are friends and drone enthusiasts. Steve and John spend most of their free time working on their drones and practicing for races. They each purchased drones for under $200. However, both have added upgraded cameras and other items that increase their values. With the use of special goggles, the camera allows them to navigate their drones through obstacle courses. The camera images are also displayed on their phones. Steve and John arenít real people.

Occasionally, Steve and John mess around with their drones after dark. One night, Steve walks over to Johnís home and positions his drone outside Johnís bedroom window. John lives with his parents. Steve calls John and tells him to look outside his window. John sees the drone outside his window and thinks itís really cool.

John and Steve walk around the neighborhood with their drones deciding whose windows they should buzz. They each put tape over the lights on their drones so they are even less visible. Steve sees a house with an illuminated skylight on the second level. From the road, Steve hovers the drone over the skylight window. From Steveís phone, they can now see inside the personís home and into the bedroom. They donít see anyone so they move on to another home.
After a few minutes, John hovers his drone outside a large semi-circular window on the second floor of a home. John and Steve can now see into a bedroom and bathroom. They see a woman in her pajamas at the sink. John gets scared and flies his drone back to him.

Steve and John just committed the crime of voyeurism. Effective July 1, 2017, the offense of unmanned aerial voyeurism is a Class A misdemeanor punishable up to one year in jail. It appears that the new law will make it a Level 6 felony punishable up to 2.5 years in jail if the person charged has a prior voyeurism conviction and/or commits the crime with the use of a camera-equipped drone. Charges can be even more serious if the person observed is under the age of eighteen

Steve and John decide to stick with their true passion Ė racing drones. They keep their drones far away from the homes of other people.

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Jeff Terrill is a partner/shareholder with the law firm of Arnold Terrill Anzini, P.C. Mr. Terrill represents clients accused of crimes throughout northeast Indiana. You can contact Mr. Terrill with any questions or comments at his office at 260.420.7777 or via email at jterrill@fortwaynedefense.com. Learn more about his firm at www.fortwaynedefense.com. This article expressed opinions and observations of the author, is not intended as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader. Please consult a qualified attorney with any legal questions or issues you might have. Thank you

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