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Oregonian faces federal charges for pointing laser at planes

An Oregon man has found himself in serious trouble for allegedly pointing a laser at two commercial planes at Portland International Airport on October 13. Following an investigation by federal authorities, the man has been arrested and is facing charges of having committed federal crimes. The 39-year-old security guard from Oregon has pleaded not guilty to the pending charges.

A federal indictment says the incident that precipitated charges allegedly occurred near Oregon's busiest airport, when the man aimed a laser pointer toward the cockpits of United and Jetblue jets that were landing. Prosecutors allege the man pointed a green laser light at the planes approximately 25 times and admitted to doing so for excitement. He is alleged to have checked scanner channels to see what police were saying after he used the pointer.

The defendant's criminal defense attorney pointed says the accused man has problems with depression and is addicted to painkillers. Because of this defense assertion, the judge has requested that the defendant's mental health be evaluated. The accused has no previous criminal record.

Many Oregonians are aware that point laser lights at aircraft cockpits and planes can endanger lives and particularly those of passengers. Unfortunately, the incidence of people on the ground pointing lasers at planes has been steadily rising over the last few years, according to federal authorities.

Being prosecuted in federal court instead of state court is challenging. Conviction of a federal crime brings the potential of a severe prison sentence, in addition to substantial fines.

No matter how serious federal charges are, a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. To address the challenges of being prosecuted in federal court, a defendant should take all steps necessary to mount a strong defense. if a person's defense strategy is successful, he or she may see the charges reduced or dropped entirely.

Source: USA Today, "Oregon man accused of aiming laser at landing planes," Ben Mutzabaugh, Oct. 22, 2013

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