Illegal to Fly Over My Neighbor's Back Yard?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by pdmike, Feb 8, 2018.

  1. pdmike

    pdmike Extremely Popular Member

    Great advice. I have previously neglected to mention height or altitude of your quad. The higher my quad flies over someone else's house, the less chance (1) it will even be noticed and (2) complained about.
     
  2. Chuck

    Chuck Well-Known Member

    Unfortunately, that is an erroneous assumption (I was in the Air Force, and among other places, stationed at Castle AFB near Merced). Although an Air Force base is federal property, Air Force Regulations forbid both military personnel as well as civilians on base property, from violating any civilian statutes from the local-thru-federal level, while on base property. Military personnel can be prosecuted under BOTH civilian statutes AND the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice), the only exception to the double-jeopardy prohibition under The Constitution. Civilians will be referred to the appropriate civil authorities off base, up to the FBI, depending on the severity of the violation. And in many cases, the feds do refer violators to non-federal law enforcement on federal property. A prime example being local, county, or state law enforcement being requested for violations at post offices, military recruitment offices, Social Security offices, Amtrak property, etc. There is no such thing as: "You can't touch me, because I am/was on federal property.".
    To which the police officer will tell the victim to document each and everytime that thos occurs, including taking video if possible. Along with documenting that these flyovers do NOT occur when the victim is not present, or when someone other than the victim is present. Keep in mind. As far as the "creative" enforcement action taken. The police are NOT charging the offender with violating FAA regulations or other federal statutes, only applicable state statutes. It goes back to how the feds got Al Capone. They couldn't prove that he was involved in murders, bribery, bootlegging, extortion, etc. But due to his extravagant lifestyle with no documented legitimate form of employment and income, they took him down on tax evasion. In other words, I may not be able to get you on a high profile violation that makes the headlines, but a series of lesser violations that I can prosecute for on legitimate charges will serve the purpose equally. I'm only interested in the end result. Ten years for two consecutive five year sentences or one single ten year sentence, is all the same to me. Avoid the risk of being charged and don't become a crime stat. And doing something to annoy neighbors and then daring law enforcement to come after you, is "throwing down the gaunlet" to the worse possible opponent. You have just made yourself into a priority to be taken down. There's more than enough available space, that a quad pilot doesn't need to becoming someone to be made an example of (Don't think that judges also won't recognize your act as "thumbing your nose" at them, for telling you to go fly somewhere else, if they give you a break the first time....).
     
  3. pdmike

    pdmike Extremely Popular Member

    Looks like they are talking about airplanes here, rather than quads. I'm not a pilot, but I suspect that if a Cessna flew ten feet over someone's house, the pilot would be in serious trouble with the FAA and probably a host of other agencies/jurisdictions.
     
  4. mozquito1

    mozquito1 Well-Known Member

    You wanna buy a dvd :cool:

    Oh I think you do o_O

    Only a Million Bucks :D
     
  5. ArmyVet

    ArmyVet Well-Known Member

    Forgetting the FAA for the moment. (They Control both planes and Quads)

    I think the important phrase is:

    "flying low enough over the surface to interfere with the owner’s reasonable use and enjoyment of her surface."

    Seems like that may at least open you up for a legal battle.
     
  6. pdmike

    pdmike Extremely Popular Member

    I recognize that a "creative" officer can always find some law to cite or arrest someone under. The arrest may not stand up in court but your point is well taken - why go through all the hassle if it can be avoided in the first instance?

    The only point I am making is that, at present, there is no, direct, criminal statute in California that imposes sanctions for a quad flying over a house. Period. So a quad pilot in California can fly over a house without fear of being criminally prosecuted for doing so. Sure, he can be hassled by a "creative" police officer or sued civilly for invasion of privacy, but the quad pilot has some measure of control over seeing that neither of these two situations ever come up by (1) not flying over houses to begin with unless necessary, (2) keeping the quad at a pretty good altitude as it goes over the house with the camera pointed forward, not down, (3) keeping the quad moving, not hovering over the house and (4) being polite and reasonable with any police officer who responds to a complaint from someone.

    Remember - California does not control airspace over private property.
     
  7. pdmike

    pdmike Extremely Popular Member

    A legal civil battle, but not a legal criminal battle. My only concern on this thread is the threat of criminal prosecution for flying a quad over a house.
     
  8. mozquito1

    mozquito1 Well-Known Member

  9. Chuck

    Chuck Well-Known Member

    Any violation of a criminal statute by any means, can result in a LEGAL criminal prosecution. Case in point. A commercial airline pilot reports for duty intoxicated. He is clearly in violation of applicable FAA regulations that prohibit that. A patrol officer following him as he drove to the airport observes the pilot zig-zag twice across the double yellow centerline of the street, park a foot and a half from the curb, and stagger as he walks away from the car. Approaching the pilot, the officer observes the odor of an alcoholic beverage. Informing the pilot of his observations, the officer performed a field sobriety test which the pilot failed. The pilot is thrn placed under arrest for driving under the influence along with public drunkiness, with a third charge for driving on the wrong side of the highway when he went over the centerline. The pilot is convicted in court of all charges. At no time did the officer charge the pilot with ANY FAA violations. The FAA having been informed by the pilots employing airline, take their own actions against him for his violations under their regs. "Creative" prosecution by the police? Absolutely. Legitimate? Absolutely. Completely legal? Absolutely. Keep in mind, counselor. We're just playing by the rules you came up with. No point in getting upset because we are smart enough to read them completely, and exploit them just as you do. That's why we have an advisarial system of justice. It works both ways.
     
  10. Chuck

    Chuck Well-Known Member

    EXCEPT, that the FAA limits drones to a maximum altitude of 400 feet. If the courts recognize a 500 foot maximum height to a property owner's claim to airspace above their property, then a drone pilot is trespassing in overflights within that 500 foot altitude. In effect, you cannot legally overfly the property, because you cannot legally reach an altitude above that limit.
     
  11. Chuck

    Chuck Well-Known Member

    No state controls airspace, but through both civil AND criminal statutes, they DO impose control over actions and inactions. And that is how they can indirectly control airspace. Another case in point where California and other states may have statutes similar to those in Pennsylvania: "Title 18, Section 2705, Recklessly endangering another person. A person commits a misdemeanor of the second degree if he recklessly engages in conduct which places or may place another person in danger of death or serious bodily injury." Not an FAA regulation. But if you're flying your quad around where an electric company or phone company lineman is up near the top of a pole doing work and you're getying in too close for his comfort, refuse to stop upon his request, and he fears that he might fall or come in contact with high voltage lines, I think I can convince a judge that I met the burden of proof for my case. Even if you were out in an open field away from homes, schools, airports, parks, or other restricted airspace. I could also add the previously mentioned Disorderly conduct charge, along with a few others that apply. What you are doing as a defense attorney is looking at a case through "horseblinders" statutorily. You only look at what is specifically inacted to address a violation. As a prosecutor just like ADA's, police are trained to any and every applicable statute available to them for a particular offense. Did I forget to mention Section 3302, Causing or risking a catastrophe? Remember that lineman? What if when he falls, he shorts out those electric power lines which among other t hings, supply a nearby hospital, and homes of bed ridden residents on ventilation machines? I'm quite certain that California has a similar statute to address that. And if by chance there was a redent power outage, that would just underscore my point in front of the judge. Thete is way yoo much available open spsce to fly quads in this country, to risk fines and imprisonment just to try to prove that you can do whatever you want, and nobody is going to stop you. To that I reply with something my Dad told me years ago: "The Army can't make you do what you don't want to. But it can sure make you wish that you had....".
     
  12. pdmike

    pdmike Extremely Popular Member

    Sigh .... Chuck, old sport, you are consistently missing my point. I realize that there are a number of ways a cop can arrest or cite someone for flying a drone over a house if he or she wants to pursue them. OK. That's a given. I am only trying to point out that, at least in California, you can fly a drone over a house without having to worry about the existence of a criminal law under which you can be arrested or cited just for flying your quad over a house without doing it recklessly or in some manner that endangers the homeowner or invades his privacy. Your point is, no, that you can be arrested or cited if the cop wants to get creative. Of course you can, but that's one rung down the ladder from a cop being able to arrest or cite you under a criminal statute merely for flying over a house. Don't you see that? :)

    I think my work is finished here.
     
    Spork likes this.
  13. Chuck

    Chuck Well-Known Member

    And my point is that THERE ARE WAYS TO MAKE A CRIMINAL ARREST. You refuse to accept that, even with me citing specific exsmples of how it can be done. In football, it's called "an end run". You expect me to make an attempt to go straight through your defenses, and I choose to go around them instead. In a courtroom, you're going to be standing there saying: "He can't do that!!!" And the judge will respond with: "He just did...."
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2018
  14. Chuck

    Chuck Well-Known Member

     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2018
  15. Spork

    Spork Well-Known Member

    While that's a good rule of thumb, it's not completely true. You are allowed to fly 400' over structures within a 400' radius of the structure. If there was a 300' building, you could fly at 700' AGL as long as you were within 400' of it - assuming you are also meeting other FAA rules like being 500' below clouds, 2000' away from clouds horizontally, have 3 SM visibility, etc, etc.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2018
  16. Spork

    Spork Well-Known Member

    Relax, dude. He never said you couldn't. We all heard you the other five times.
     
  17. Chuck

    Chuck Well-Known Member

    No, not 400 feet over structures, but 400 feet maximum altitude. 400 feet over structures would give a drone pilot an altitude of approximately 1,800 feet to clear the Empire State Building in Manhattan. I think you need to reread the FAA regs.
     
  18. Chuck

    Chuck Well-Known Member

    This conversation is becoming one that I frequently saw as a cop. Somebody doesn't like the answer received because it doesn't go along with what they want to do. Then once they find themselves on the receiving end of the negative consequences they were warned about in advance, the drama begins about being oppressed, being picked on, being unfairly targeted, etc, etc, etc. Even when advised in advance of reasonable alternatives to the activity or activities that they insist on engaging in. What some refuse to acknowledge is that if I really wanted to see anybody here get jammed up, the easiest thing for me to do is sit back and watch silently, knowing what was coming. Nobody wants to hear the cop say: "Don't do this, because this is what will happen to you as a consequence." But everybody wants to scream that they are being picked on when what the cops warned them about happens.
     
    John Scott likes this.
  19. Spork

    Spork Well-Known Member

    You may want to reread them yourself. I just got my 107 license and this specific information was in at least 2-3 questions on the test. The specific example I gave in my response above is an example of some of the questions that appear on the test.

    From the FAA website (summary here):
    • Maximum altitude of 400 feet above ground level (AGL) or, if higher than 400 feet AGL, remain within 400 feet of a structure.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2018
  20. Spork

    Spork Well-Known Member

    You're mistaking me for someone else. I enjoy learning from people in all walks of life. Some of my favorite stories are from a friend on Dallas SWAT. I'm also the type of person to thank police officers when they give me a ticket because I know from the news and the stories of my LEO friends that they do not have an easy job and I'm glad they are out there doing it. Now mind you, I'm not happy about having to pay the ticket, but I know the officer has pulled me over because I was breaking the law and he/she is just doing their job. You will never hear me complain about getting in trouble for something when I knowingly break a law - I try to completely avoid situations that have even a hint of being against the law.

    The part I believe you are missing is that @pdmike was specifically talking about whether the act was civil or criminal. You gave some great information, which I and others appreciated and @pdmike acknowledged in one of his previous posts. Where you lost me is when it appeared that you missed that and kept on and on about the various ways you could penalize someone - when you had already explained that and it had already been acknowledged.

    I mean no disrespect, just pointing out how I saw it. Thank you for your service as a law enforcement officer. You guys are very much appreciated.
     

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