U.S. Eighth Circuit - The FindLaw 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Laser Pointer Sentencing Enhancement Upheld on Appeal

A Kansas City man who was sentenced to three years in jail for pointing a laser pointer at a police helicopter challenged the application of a sentencing enhancement. Interestingly, while the guidelines on his conviction, with the enhancement, recommended 41 to 51 months, the judge only imposed a 36 month sentence.

Nevertheless, the laser-happy defendant claimed that the sentencing enhancement for reckless conduct shouldn't apply -- despite intentionally shining the laser at the helicopter while being fully aware of the risk of harming the pilot and endangering the lives of those onboard the helicopter. The Eighth Circuit didn't agree, and didn't spend too much time explaining why.

What'd He Do to Get 36 Months?

Back in 2013, Jordan Rogers pointed a laser pointer at a police helicopter three times, after allegedly pointing it at a motorist. Rogers must've been a rather good shot too because the pilot reportedly suffered eye-strain for several hours after the incident.

His stiff sentence for the seemingly benign act is more fitting than the bare facts make it sound. But, the potential blinding of a pilot or motorist could result in multiple deaths and property damage into the millions. Not setting a stern example when this type of case is prosecuted could result in more crimes of this type, or worse, injuries and deaths as a result.

An Unwinnable Laser Light Fight

Unfortunately for the defendant and appellant, his claim was pretty much DOA at the Eighth Circuit. The record was rather heavily stacked against him, with his own admissions to law enforcement being detailed on the record. The defendant's admissions were more than simple "oops, I did it"-style admissions. He apparently admitted to having full knowledge that what he was doing by pointing the laser was illegal.

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