Downing A Drone To Protect Privacy Is Now Officially Labeled “Criminal Mischief”

drone shootdownBy Joe Wright

As hobby drones continue to proliferate across the United States and commercial applications rise, the rules about drone use remain murky, as do the penalties for downing them if you feel your privacy is being threatened.

So far we have seen a push by the FAA to impose mandatory drone registration that requires owners of any drone weighing more than 250 grams to ID their aircraft and provide personal contact information so that quick action can be taken in the case of violations. However, this is being done mainly to protect government institutions, federal airspace and of course to address the ubiquitous threat of terrorism.

Meanwhile, a range of penalties has been applied to the few individuals who have managed to bring down drones in both public and private space; from jail time in the case of a man who took down a drone with his T-shirt at a California beach, to a 65-year-old Pennsylvania woman who hit her neighbor’s drone with a rock, destroying it – she was forced to pay $600 in damages, but was cleared of “criminal mischief.” A Kentucky man who took more serious action and used a shotgun to blast his neighbor’s drone out of the sky, was arrested, but also was eventually cleared of criminal mischief and first-degree endangerment.

One case that has still been pending is for New Jersey resident, Russell Percenti. He was actually the first ever to be arrested for downing a drone and was indicted by a grand jury; he was facing more than 5 years in jail for his use of a shotgun to take down a drone that hovered near his house. Again, “criminal mischief” was the charge, as well as a weapons offense.

It appears that Percenti’s 2014 case has finally reached a resolution and might have wider precedent-setting implications.

In a short announcement from the Associated Press, Percenti has now admitted to the charge of criminal mischief and will escape his lengthy jail sentence in favor of probation.

Perhaps most troubling, is that Percenti still seems to be asserting that “he was trying to protect his family’s privacy.” However, facing an inordinate length of time for that infraction, he has capitulated and put on the record that it is now an act of criminal mischief to do so.

I certainly don’t wish to impugn the moral compass of Mr. Percenti, as it is the justice system and due process itself where the questions should ultimately lay, but this certainly would seem to open the door to empowering the State against future citizens who will not abide by this type of threat to their person or property. It would be wise to keep a close eye on how future cases are addressed to see if a new trend emerges.

Have you seen low-flying drones out in public where you live, or flying over your private property? Have you read any other stories of people being arrested for shooting down drones in your state? Please leave details in the comment section.

Joe Wright’s articles can be found at This article can be freely shared in part or in full with author attribution and source link.

  • vladilyich

    Han them electronically. That can’t be traced or proven.

    • Brad Dueringer

      Use an old microwave oven’s microwave generator and build a microwave gun. If a drone invades your privacy, use the microwave on the drone to destroy it. Hide the microwave gun and plead ignorance when asked what happened to their drone. For higher flying drones, you can couple several microwave units together and have a parabolic dish focus the energy to act at a distance in an “effective” way.

  • Larua

    people wake up, you privacy and right to protect your life and your loved one lives is key.
    we cannot allow this corrupt government make us afraid to defend our rights. if we all
    start making noise about this, they will have to back down and leave us to our rights.
    don’t be a part of the problem, be the gd solution.

    • Brad Dueringer

      I have a solution. Use an old microwave oven’s microwave generator and build a microwave gun. If a drone invades your privacy, use the microwave on the drone to destroy it. Hide the microwave gun and plead ignorance when asked what happened to their drone. For higher flying drones, you can couple several microwave units together and have a parabolic dish focus the energy to act at a distance in an “effective” way.

      Just trying to help my fellow man…..

      • jazzfeed

        Not helpful at all without the instructions.

  • Terry

    This is a legal no brainer. The FAA owns the air. Period. You may hate that. You may wish it were different. Congress could change the law even. But today the FAA owns the air.

    Destruction of private property is a crime. it has always been a crime going back centuries in English common law.

    Firing a gun into a populated area is inherently dangerous. Every armed idiot says “Oh my shotgun blast was straight up at that drone that was 3 feet over my 14 year old naked sun bathing daughter”. That is a simple lie, until you say it in court then of course it it perjury. The maniac in Kentucky was particularly egregious because there was telemetry showing everything he said was a lie. But hey, Kentucky. They aren’t the butt of jokes in Mississippi and Arkansas for no reason!

    It is wonderful to see the wheels of justice start grinding up these red neck vigilantes. Hopefully soon one of them will go to federal prison for 5 years and that will put an end to it – before they kill someone!

    • OldeSoul

      Not “Period” at all. That’s only what the FAA claims to be true. Your “legal no brainer” has not been decided in a court yet and probably won’t be until a small plane sucks a drone into its engines and goes down, killing the passengers and a serious lawsuit (versus frivolous “My nervous chickens!” “My naked daughter!”) forces the issue. Let’s all hope you keep your drone from killing anyone.

      • Terry

        All airspace from the surface to 60,000 feet is classified under international law. All airspace over parts of the planet that are subject to the governance of the US Federal Government is under absolute regulation by the FAA. Also, any airspace not classified as something else (A thru E) is (once again by international law) Class G airspace. [The US does not have any class F airspace].

        The fact that the FAA has not been eager to insert itself into this mess doesn’t change the fact that Congress gave them unlimited power over it. There is no legal exception at all. For anything.

        If you want to put a TV antenna in your back yard the only reason you can do that is because the FAA has specifically written regulations saying you can. Incidentally if your antenna is over 200 feet tall it will have additional FAA regulation and you ignore them at risk of serious legal consequences.

        • OldeSoul

          Thank you for taking the time to educate me. I did look into this a bit before writing my comment, but not all that much since I don’t really care about drones particularly and I certainly don’t intend to buy one. What is bothersome is that our government thinks it owns everything, including the air we breath and the water we drink and use to grow the nation’s food. Recently the mayor of a town in the state where I live sold the town’s water supply to Cargill. He had no right to do this and now the town has to buy it back at a much higher price than it sold it for. This kind of bureaucratic malfeasance makes me spit bullets.

          Anyway, don’t be too hard on the rednecks, they’re just protecting the government’s air.

          • Richard Wahd

            I thought the Nestles company owns the water beneath american soil – guess I stand corrected!

          • OldeSoul

            Ya, I thought that too. They have basically privatized the water supply and it’s for sale to the highest bidder, including the water that drops out of the FAA’s air. How much bottled water was sold to the people of Flint, MI? I guess the next gambit will be selling air and we’ll have to pay to breath it. Be a cutting edge oligarch, start an air bottling company today!

        • walcon

          The government owns nothing I/we do not consent to.
          They regulate by the consent of the person- that is the law.
          Just because they make one of those fake laws, does not make it so. Again- By what authority do they make laws? By consent of those governed.

    • isnamthere

      POS terry defending the “rights” of some to spy on others. There is a separate justice for POS like terry.

  • Dave from San Antonio

    In the case of Percenti…it shows how our gov’t. is working overtime to step on the “individual” and their rights. Had the drone been around a gov’t. building and a “gov’t. agent” shot it down…even in the midst of a highly populated city, endangering the lives of citizens…he would be hailed as a hero, mostly likely.

  • littljo

    inalienable right
    noun – a right according to natural law, a right that cannot be taken away, denied, or transferred.

    This is precedent over any man made law.

  • berrybestfarm

    The whole corrupt system works on our consent. This man was fraudulently coerced into consenting to avoid imprisonment. It is our consent (assumed to be given freely until challenged) that keeps the corruption growing. A plea deal is definitely consent–consent that eventually supports the courts assumptions and the circle is complete. The biggest “trick” is no longer informing us of the cause of the charges against us. The court gets to presume we know the cause because we were there. Here’s the trick, we are pleading to their cause which includes our intent to commit the crimes charged. Imagine what would happen if you stood firm in court (because you are truly innocent) that they must inform you of the cause–this means give you enough information to understand (stand under) the charges and you keep repeating there was no intent to commit a crime and no one was harmed so this is a bogus cause and no one can enter a competent plea on a bogus cause. When the judge tries to enter a plea for you just remind the judge it is on the record that its his understanding of the cause not yours so he will have to defend his own incompetent plea. The next biggest trick is appointing a lawyer to represent you. We have the right to assistance of counsel. Representation is for those who are incompetent. Even though you are perfectly competent once a representative is assigned you just lost your voice. You are silenced and I guarantee the lawyer is going to go with the flow and not represent you. But, since the court is the only one that can fire the representative you are screwed because the lawyer gave your consent away. Stand firm on your dual rights to represent yourself and to have assistance of counsel specifically not representation. Wait for the judge to spout his/her nonsense about how good it is to have a lawyer and simply respond. “Yes, as you say, the system requires expertise to navigate these days which puts it out of reach of ordinary people and outside of our constitutional consent. I move for dismissal.”
    I and two associates were arrested last year and jailed for peacefully attempting to read a redress of grievance to our district court judge before court was put in session. There is a basis for the information I am sharing with you.

  • Richard Wahd

    If there was a certain person with his own drone and a few of those hacked green laser pointers – he could quite possibly conduct some drone vs. drone warfare. But even better yet, if there was a team of drone hobbyists with the lasers on them – and they all ganged up on a chemtrail plane – oh imagine the possibilities!!! Now if there were groups of these electronics hobbyists in all 48 continental states as well as Hawaii & Alaska, aw heck, let’s include the hobbyists in Canada and Mexico! Oh the possibilities! Green laser pointers hurt cams? You don’t say! *enormous grin*

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