PC 171.5 – Bringing Weapons into an Airport

PC 171.5 - Weapons in an Airport

Weapons in an Airport – Table of Contents

PC 171.5 – Overview

What are Weapons in an Airport as defined under California Penal Code 171.5?

Any person who knowingly possesses certain weapons (including firearms) within any sterile area of an airport or passenger vessel terminal.

PC 171.5 – Prosecuting

What is the mental state required for a violation under California Penal Code 171.5?

Knowingly is the mental state required for a violation of California Penal Code 171.5. It requires that the People (The Prosecution) prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused was consciously aware of the act intended, and from the accused’s conduct it can be ascertained from objective reasonableness that the accused understood the consequences that would result. The People, in proving this can enable a jury to consider evidence showing what the accused said; what the accused failed to do; how the accused acted; and all other evidence showing what was in the accused’s mind at that time.

What weapons are described to not be allowed at or beyond the sterile area and to be in violation or suspect of violation of California Penal Code 171.5?

A weapon is an object that by its ordinary use and design is meant to hurt others and when used in any manner capable of its design likely to produce injury or great bodily harm. A deadly weapon is an object that by its ordinary use and design is meant to be deadly to others and when used in any manner capable of its design likely to produce death.

Firearm: Any device that is designed to be used as a weapon that from its design a projectile can be expelled or discharged by a barrel by the force from a discharged explosion or combustion. The firearm must be capable of discharge.

Box Cutter: A box cutter is a type of knife designed to cut things and not people and not regarded as a deadly weapon.

Straight Razor: Any unguarded blade.

Military Practice Hand Grenade (replica/ plastic replica): Any replicable hand grenade that is not by design capable of explosion or combustion but from aesthetics looks look a real military hand grenade capable without designations to warm if its equipped with a fuse, detonator, and a charge.

Imitation Firearm: Any BB (Ball Bearing) device toy gun, a replica of a firearm, or another device that is similar in coloration and overall appearance to an existing firearm that will lead a reasonable person to believe that the device is a firearm.

Firearm Components: Frames, Barrels, Receiver, Magazine, Grips, Firing Pins, Sights, and Clips.

Unauthorized tear gas: First to possess tear gas you cannot be convicted of any felony in the United States; Convicted of any assault crime in the United States; A minor; Addicted at the time of any narcotic substance or convicted of any narcotic crime in the United States. Unauthorized tear gas is:

  1. any tear gas weapon that expels a projectile or expels tear gas other than through an aerosol spray;
  2. any container having the tear gas for which the container weighs more than 2.5 ounces;
  3. that does not have a warning label on the container stating- “use of the substance or device for any purpose other than self-defense is a crime under the law/ contents are dangerous to use with care”;
  4. that does not have a label disclosing the date of expiration; a time of purchase label;
  5. including the packaging in or on a carrying case explaining the legal ramifications of improper use of the tear gas product (its good to keep it in a container).

Stun Gun: First to possess a stun gun you cannot be: Convicted of any felony in the United States; Convicted of any assault crime in the United States; A minor under the age of 16; Addicted at the time of any narcotic substance or convicted of any narcotic crime in the United States. A stun gun is any weapon that can immobilize a person by the infliction of an electrical charge (All stun guns must have the manufacturer’s label and serial number affixed to the side).

Taser: First to possess a taser you cannot be: Convicted of any felony in the United States; Convicted of any assault crime in the United States; A minor under the age of 16; Addicted at the time of any narcotic substance or convicted of any narcotic crime in the United States. A taser is any weapon that can immobilize a person by the infliction of an electrical charge by expelling an electrical prong that projects through the barrel (All tasers must have the manufacturer’s label and serial number affixed to the side).

Other weapons: paint guns, or any instruments that use a CO2 cartridge or forced air or spring action to dispel an object.

What is a sterile area for airports as defined under California Penal Code 171.5?

A sterile area is any portion of an airport that is defined in the airport security program that is responsible for the screening of persons and property as administered by the Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) and the Airport Operator. Regarding an airport, the sterile area is the portion of the airport that provides passengers of private chartered and commercial flights access to boarding aircraft. Any portion of this access as defined is controlled by an airport security program and administered by the TSA and The Department of Homeland Security.

What is a sterile area for passenger vessel terminals as defined under California Penal Code 171.5?

A sterile area is any portion of a passenger vessel terminal that is defined the Facility Security Plan (FSP) that is responsible for the screening of persons and property as administered by the Transportation and Security Administration (TSA), the Maritime Security Level System (MARSEC) and the Facilities Operator. Specifically, the sterile area are the locations where persons, personal effects and vehicle screenings are to be conducted- regardless of the weather conditions. The MARSEC is the level security to reflect the prevailing threat to the marine elements which include the ports, the vessels, and other critical infrastructures that are located on the water subject to the jurisdiction of The Department of Homeland Security. There are three tiers of MARSEC levels. The first level is focused on screening for passenger tickets, boarding passes, worker permits, government identifications, visitor badges and luggage. The second level is focused on X-Ray Screening of unaccompanied baggage, limiting access points in the water by unpermitted watercraft, denying visitors without verified destinations and IDs, and screening parked vehicles for dangerous weapons. The third level pertains to counter measures to restrict access within the vessel facilities and cargo once dangerous objects are located.

What is an airport as defined under California Penal Code 171.5?

An airport is a secure area that regularly services an air carrier for both private chartered and commercial flights.

What is a Passenger Vessel Terminal as defined under California Penal Code 171.5?

A passenger vessel terminal is a harbor or port facility with a secured area that serves commuters or passengers awaiting to aboard their respective watercraft- Ferry, Boats, Freight Ships, Cruise Liners.

Who screens the baggage carried by people in sterile areas, as defined under California Penal Code 171.5, and do they need training?

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a section of The Department of Homeland Security under Section 114(r) of Title 49 of the United States Code is responsible for the administration and training of all TSA employees by Screening Checkpoint Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) once designated airport staff, air carrier personnel and pilots and passengers of private chartered and commercial chartered flights approach the Travel Document Checker (TDC) to provide their boarding documents and government-issued documents; in order to enter the screening area where appropriate plaques and signage are to provide notice of the necessities of the screening. The TSA appoint Transportation Security Officers (TSO), who are then trained and monitored by Supervisory Transportation Officers (STSO). To board any private chartered or commercial airliner a person and their carryon must be screened. If there is an issue requiring further investigation a pat down as designed under TSA training (Standard Pat Downs and Modified Pat Downs) must be conducted and can be conducted in private rooms. It is the option for the TSO to release a person from the screening area once screening has motivated a decision for a pat-down. Screening procedures include a metal detector that you walk through, X-Rays on conveyor belts for luggage and personal Assistant Training Instructor (ATI) Screening by with newly hired TSOs.

What are forced exceptions to a screening to allow a person the decision to head back to the public areas prior to a screening as defined under Penal Code 171.5?

Pregnant women, People in Wheelchairs, Individuals with a Pacemaker. There is a limited exception for those with verifiable head dresses and full body clothing and scarves associated with religious denominations which require removal after an inquiry; including ladies with skirts or short skirts. The full exception requires TSOs to allow people in this category to walk back to the public areas prior to screening- they must be afforded this opportunity or asked if accommodations are appropriate. The limited exception requires TSOs to ask screening candidates if they require a private room.

What happens if the screening provokes a TSO to want to conduct a pat down to search for weapons as defined under California Penal Code 171.5?

All pat downs must be conducted by members of the same gender, if not a Lead Transportation Security Officer (LTSO) must be present. If a private room is requested the TSO must provide an elected witness or provide a same party a TSA witness at the election of the special category passenger. It must be noted that prior to a pat down, in observation of surveillance, the TSO must: advise the need to conduct the search, and demonstrate to the passenger the areas to be searched prior to touching them, especially in areas of pubic regions.

Are there exceptions for those who can carry weapons and not be subject to a violation of California Penal Code 171.5?

Yes. Peace Officers. Retired Peace Officers. Peace Officers working for the Department of Justice coming from other States on official business in the State of California- or licensed gun carriers not yet entering the screening areas that were duly appointed, on-site, by Peace Officers on duty to help with an exigent circumstance.

What is a peace officer as defined under California Penal Code 171.5?

A peace officer who after certification and training by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training is any person employed by the: (1) Sherriff; (2) Police Department; (3) Municipality; (4) San Diego Port Harbor Police; (5) Inspectors and investigators employed by the District Attorney’s Office; (6) Attorney General’s Office; (7) Department of Justice; (8) Deputy employed by the Sheriff in all counties of the State of California; (9) California Highway Patrol; (10) University Police Department; (11) Office of Correctional Safety of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; (12) Department of Internal Affairs and Department of Corrections; (13) Department of Fish and Game; (14) Department of Parks and Recreation; (15) Department of Forestry and Fire Protection; (16) Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control; (17) Board of Directors of the Exposition and California State Fair; (118) Department of Cannabis Control; (19) Deputized persons.

PC 171.5 – Sentencing

What are the penalties for a violation of California Penal Code 171.5?

A violation of Penal Code 171.5 charged as a misdemeanor. Confinement cannot exceed 6 months in jail with fines not exceeding $1000.

What are examples of a violation of California Penal Code 171.5?

Tavis just purchased the latest booya stun gun. It is the first California DOJ approved weapon that has been sponsored for the general public. It weighs 5 pounds and dispels 45,000 volts as compared to its rivals which average 25,000 volts. The only catch is that you cannot have any criminal acts on your record to purchase one and must register the weapon at the sheriff’s office. It costs $ 2000 and comes in a clear coated composite. It comes with a carrying case which details all the warnings and instructions required under law. The gun also has the manufacture label and serial number on it as well. Tavis was so excited about the purchase that he showed every person in the baggage check in. It was important because the company was the first weapons manufacturer to raise private money from the public at $ 10 per share before going private, and each share now values at $100. If a person was lucky enough to get the URL and passcode to invest on the private website. Tavis was one of them. After showing at least 50 people he placed the gun and its carrying case back in his backpack in separate compartments. Once he went past the check point, he placed his backpack on the conveyor belt. The backpack alerted the TSA, who questioned Tavis about his gun. He responded, “It’s the new Booya Stun Gun, it is completely legal and safe, I am registered and will place it back in my carrying case and go to my flight, no harm, no foul, I am not dangerous.” The Sheriff’s arrested Tavis onsite and confiscated his stun gun.

David is a martial arts enthusiast and has started Taekwondo. He loves the art so much that his instructor gave him false props to utilize during his travels. One of the props that his instructor gave him was a replica 45 Glock which had its muzzle sealed with the name replica on the side of it painted in bright red. The prop was rubber. David did not think this was a problem as the replica was placed in his pocket. David was also Shai Muslim and wore a Turban. Tavis went with his fiancé to catch a late flight to their parents. Once he went through screening it was found that a rubber staff longer than 6 inches was inside his carry case. David was further patted down in a private room as he requested, because they wanted him to remove his turban. Once in the private room they found his replica Glock in his pocket. He was arrested.

PC 171.5 – Defending

Are there exceptions to a violation of California Penal Code 171.5?

  • The TSA Official refused the option to leave the screening area to an otherwise exempted party.
  • The accused was a retired peace officer.
  • The accused was an exempted party requiring options for release or accommodations for privacy.
  • The TSA Official did not adhere to proper protocol for the search and pat down after detection.
  • The item that was confiscated was not listed as a weapon under Penal Code 171.5
  • The accused was not the owner of the weapon found as determined by registration.

PC 171.5 – Hire a Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been arrested for a violation of California Penal Code 171.5, call The Esfandi Law Group, APLC. Seppi Esfandi, Principal Attorney of Esfandi Law Group, APLC, his staff, and Attorneys are delighted to discuss your legal issues and seek retainment to provide solutions.

Call Us for a FREE Case Review: 310-274-6529

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Lara S.
June 4, 2018
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Seppi had my case reduced to just an infraction, and thanks to him I was able to keep my job. Jorge was extremely helpful too, the reason I went with this law firm. Overall pleased.

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