If you ever fly out from West Virginia, you may benefit from learning more about the federal crimes that occur aboard airplanes. According to the Justice Department, certain acts that would be punishable in the territorial or maritime jurisdiction of the United States are also criminal if they occur within U.S. aircraft jurisdiction. These offenses are punishable whether or not they are associated with aircraft piracy or attempted piracy.
Criminal acts on airplanes
Some of the violent offenses considered crimes on an airplane include assault, maiming, robbery, murder, manslaughter, attempted manslaughter or murder, and sexual abuse. Some of the non-violent offenses include receiving stolen property, theft, and embezzlement. Enclave assault is a lesser offense often included for involving interference with flight attendants or crew members. Federal Aviation Regulations state that no person may threaten, intimidate, interfere or assault a crew member in the performance of their duties aboard an operating aircraft.
Unruly passengers and the FAA
The Federal Aviation Administration now has a zero-tolerance policy for unruly passengers, meaning the FAA is no longer addressing these types of cases with counseling or warning notices. Passengers who disrupt flights with unruly or violent behavior may face fines from the FAA and prosecution for federal crimes. Interfering with the duties of crew members is a violation of federal law. The FAA may propose up to $37,000 per violation, and any incident can involve multiple violations.
Violating federal laws on aircrafts
In November 2021, the Attorney General issued a memorandum prioritizing the prosecution of federal crimes on commercial aircraft that endangered the safety of passengers, flights crews, and attendants during the holiday season. The information-sharing protocol between the Justice Department and the FAA provides the FBI and other federal authorities with real-time notifications on criminal conduct occurring aboard commercial aircraft. Federal law prohibits any intimidation, threats of violence, or assault that interferes with flight crews and attendants.