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Flying for the Holidays – Your Guide to Not Getting TSA Trouble

With holiday season here, many of us will be packing our bags to visit our loved ones. If you are traveling by air, save yourself sometime and take a look at your airport security regulations before you decide what to bring on your trip.

Last week, a traveller was arrested after checking in a loaded rifle and three other illegal weapons. The arrest was made at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, after Port Authority discovered Keenan Draughon checked in two handguns, two defaced rifles and two unloaded high-capacity magazines through baggage claim. He was questioned by airport security and now is now facing charges of counts of criminal possession of a defaced rifle and two counts of criminal possession of large-capacity magazine.

Draughon did not have the proper licenses to carry these firearms. He also checked in fully loaded weapons that create an unsafe environment for him and fellow travelers. Illegally carrying firearms is a criminal offense and without the proper licenses, a person can face harsh penalties. Further, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) wants to remind all travelers that attempting to bring firearms onto a plane in carry-on luggage is a serious federal violation.

 In Massachusetts, carrying weapons without a license can lead to a criminal offense and very high fines. A person who wishes to possess a small firearm must first obtain a Class B license. Accordingly, A Class B license allows the holder:

thereof to purchase, rent, lease, borrow, possess and carry: (i) non-large capacity firearms and feeding devices and ammunition therefor, for all lawful purposes, subject to such restrictions relative to the possession, use or carrying of such firearm as the licensing authority deems proper; provided, however, that a Class B license shall not entitle the holder thereof to carry or possess a loaded firearm in a concealed manner in any public way or place; and provided further, that a Class B license shall not entitle the holder thereof to possess a large capacity firearm…

In the state of Massachusetts, failure to obtain a license and carrying such weapons can lead to a fine of no less than $1000 and up to $10000 dollars.

Airline transportation of firearms varies by state and local restrictions. If you plan on bringing a firearm, you should first contact your travel agent or airline to see if firearms are permitted in checked baggage. Also, you may want to ask about any limitations and fees that may apply to carrying the firearm. If you unknowingly decide to carry a firearm that does not meet the guidelines of airport security, you will still face criminal charges.

Make traveling less of a hassle this holiday season. Check airport security requirements before you travel to avoid delays at the airport. Also, be sure to consider the rules and regulations of the airport you are traveling back from when you are booking your tickets.

Resisting Arrest – Knowing Your Rights

Resisting arrest is one thing, assaulting an officer in the process is yet another.  Assaulting a police dog?  That will certainly make the headlines.  When police were called to the scene of a disturbance and found a San Jose man vandalizing cars and brandishing a weapon, they employed the skills of their German Shepherd.  However, they didn’t expect the man to bite the dog.

An unusual case of resisting arrest.

In Santa Clara County, California near San Jose, Sheriff’s deputies responded to a call and found Frank Garcia, 34, armed with what appeared to be a knife.  He had slashed a tire on one vehicle and smashed in several car windows.  Officers attempted to talk him down so they could take him in, but he stabbed himself three times.

As his self-inflicted injuries were not life threatening, the deputies made the decision to release their K-9, “Ski” in an attempt to subdue the man.  However, Garcia allegedly, punched, choked and bit the dog until the deputies were able to tackle him to the ground.  Ski was not seriously injured, and is expected to make a full recovery and return to duty soon. Garcia was arrested on a number of charges, including resisting arrest, being under the influence of a controlled substance, and injuring a police dog.

Some of the incident was caught on video by a nearby cell phone user, and of course the video has gone viral.  Garcia’s cousin, Maxine Gonzales says that she was very thankful the deputies did not have the need to shoot at him.  That is obviously one good thing that came out of the deputies’ decision to use the K-9.  However, the penalties for resisting arrest can still be pretty steep.  In California, resisting arrest is a misdemeanor and carries with it a sentence of up to one (1) year and/or a maximum fine of one thousand dollar ($1,000) fine.  The same offense in Massachusetts could lead to a longer period of confinement.

Resisting Arrest Charges in Massachusetts

Although the charge of resisting arrest in Massachusetts is only a misdemeanor, it still carries with it a pretty significant penalty.  Massachusetts General Law Chapter 268 section 32B states as follows:

[w]hoever violates this section shall be punished by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than two and one-half years or a fine of not more than five hundred dollars, or both.

The elements of a resisting arrest charge are (1) that you prevented or attempted to prevent a police officer from making an arrest; (2) the officer was acting under color of his official authority at the time of the arrest; (3) proof that you actually resisted; and (4) you knowingly committed these acts.  Resisting usually means that you used, or threatened to use, physical force or violence against an officer or someone else.  It can also include using some other means to create a substantial risk of causing bodily injury to the officer or another person.  It must also be shown that the police officer was either in uniform at the time he attempted to arrest you, or if not, he identified himself by showing his badge or other credentials.

Defenses to resisting arrest may apply to your situation.

In Massachusetts, there are defenses applicable for resisting arrest charges, such as when you are resisting a pat frisk, fleeing a police officer who orders you to stop for the purposes of a threshold inquiry only, or not knowing the person you were resisting was a police officer.  You also have the right to use reasonable force to resist an arrest if the officer uses unreasonable or excessive force.  If you have been charged with resisting arrest it is important to retain a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney who knows the system and can help defend your rights.