Articles Tagged with Drones

J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Should I talk to the police?”

As the end of the year approaches, so does the deadline for implementing various new laws. Tradition in North Carolina dictates that new laws go into effect later in the year, giving law enforcement agencies time to prepare for the new measures and adjust any policies or procedures accordingly. December 1 is a popular date for the new laws, and this year is no exception. A number of new laws begin tomorrow, including several that create new crimes or enhance penalties for existing crimes. To find out more about what some of these new measures are, keep reading.

J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Should I talk to the police?”


Incidents involving drones are on the rise, and state legislatures are not waiting for the Federal Aviation Administration or the United States Congress to act on promulgating comprehensive civil and criminal rules on the unmanned aircraft.

Drone Mecklenburg Criminal Lawyer Charlotte DWI AttorneyOne state—Washington—is seeking to add to its criminal code a provision allowing prosecutors to allege a “nefarious drone enterprise” if drones are used in other crimes “from running drugs to scoping a house for robbery,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle. If it is proven that a criminal used a drone in connection with a criminal enterprise, an extra year in prison can be added to the criminal’s sentence.

Sen. Pam Roach, who is sponsoring the legislation, said the state needs to get ahead of the curve on a quickly emerging technology that is making “advanced, affordable personal-use unmanned aircraft” a reality. Unlike twenty other states—including North Carolina—the State of Washington has not issued any restrictions on drone use in the state.

University of Washington law professor Ryan Calo observed that the bill was tightly focused, adding “a year to the sentencing range that dictates how judges can punish an offense.” Calo wondered, however, whether the underlying offense was actually any worse simply because a drone was employed. “It would be like saying the crime of assault is different if it’s done with a hammer,” Calo said.

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J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?”


The law is catching up with drones. If you plan to operate a drone in the state of North Carolina, you need to know about some new laws the North Carolina General Assembly passed this summer. The provisions regarding drones were included in “The Current Operations and Capital Improvements Appropriations Act of 2014,” also known as Senate Bill 744.

NASA Drone Charlotte Mecklenburg Criminal Lawyer North Carolina DWI AttorneyMost of the new laws regarding drones go into effect on October 1 of this year. The laws add to North Carolina’s criminal code to establish, in effect, a class of “drone crimes.” Drones are called “unmanned aircraft” in the law, and are defined as “aircraft operated without the possibility of human intervention from within or on the aircraft.” The act excludes model aircraft from the act.

It will become illegal on October 1 to use drones to conduct surveillance of a person, an occupied dwelling or private real property without consent. Private real property means land that is owned by private individuals or companies. “Occupied dwelling” refers to any houses or buildings that have people in them. The act prohibits photographing people using a drone without their consent if the purpose for taking the photograph is to publish it or publically disseminate it.

Law enforcement officers may use drones in ways the act prohibits. The act carves out exceptions for officers who are using drones to counter a “high risk of terrorist attack.” Officers can also conduct drone surveillance of areas within their plain view from places they have a legal right to be. They can use drones in connection with serving a search warrants. They can use drones when they have “reasonable suspicion of specified imminent circumstances,” and they can use them to photograph gatherings to which the general public is invited.

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