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TSA Notice(Civil Penalty) Advice?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Sin, Feb 5, 2011.

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  1. Sin

    Sin Member

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    In what I will chalk up to as a moment of colossal youthful naivety/stupidity, I misunderstood the difference between a Gate check and a Baggage check at my local New York airport and let a toy bb gun through security screening in my suitcase.

    (Picture of bb gun: google "Tokyo Marui g17 spring")
    It was a spring bb gun sealed in its original packaging with its orange blaze tip and other security features intact.

    I was detained by the TSA and after some deliberation, they escorted me back out to have it baggage checked and told me I would soon receive a letter, which I have just received today a month later.

    I have received a Notice of Violation stating that my possession of the item violated 49 C.F.R. 1540.111(a) of the Transportation Security Regulations.
    The letter proposes to assess a civil penalty in the amount of $250, or $125 in full payment if received within 30 days.

    I'm absolutely fine with paying the $125 for my embarrassing stupidity, but what I'm really worried about is if this will go down somewhere on a permanent record showing up on background checks and such. Being a college student looking to go into law or gov't work, you can see why this is a huge concern for me.

    Does anyone have any advice for me, or similar stories? What should I do in this situation?

    Thanks guys,
    Jack
     
  2. Hypnogator

    Hypnogator Member

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    You can't rev up the ol' time machine, go back in the past, and take it out of your luggage.:what::eek::rolleyes:

    Pay the $125 and pray it isn't recorded as a "gun crime" on your record. Because it is a "violation" with a low fine, I doubt that it would ever find its way onto your criminal record.

    DDDT (Don't Do Dumb Things!) :banghead::banghead::banghead:
     
  3. Sin

    Sin Member

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    Yeah, it was a pretty huge lapse in judgment, a lesson that I won't be forgetting anytime soon.

    Anyway, I also found a link to a story you guys might like... Our good ol buddies in the TSA sure are looking out for us...
    http://tinyurl.com/5sznty8
     
  4. gc70

    gc70 Member

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    $250 is the lowest possible civil penalty that TSA assesses. Civil penalties for some violations can go as high as $10,000 and can include referral for criminal prosecution.

    Read the TSA's Enforcement Sanctions Guidance Policy. BB and air guns are addressed starting on the bottom of page 7. You must have made a favorable impression, because fines in that category run from $250 to $1,500.
     
  5. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Member

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    Does anyone have any advice for me, or similar stories? What should I do in this situation?


    Pay the fine and stay out of trobule in the future. Minor violations are usually adjudicated with a civil fine such as this. If you don't pay it TSA can change tehir mind and go criminal with it and then you will have problems.
     
  6. McKnife

    McKnife Member

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    I would contact a lawyer just to make sure everything pans out okay.:uhoh:

    Don't ever deal with TSA alone. TSA is the new ATF.:barf:

    I was threatened with a $10K fine for having shotgun shells in my checked firearms case. Long story short, I got lucky because I've got kin high-up in the food chain and I got off scot-free, sans shotgun shells.
     
  7. Shadow 7D

    Shadow 7D Member

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    McKnife....
    correct me if I'm wrong, but as long as the ammo is secured (as in not loose) you can transport it in your case. A loaded weapon OTH....
     
  8. 627PCFan

    627PCFan Member

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    I would get formal legal advice. I would think that paying the fine is admittance of guilt and might not be something you want on your record.

    On a similar note, I took a last minute trip last summer, grabbed a bag I didn't full clear for ammo after hunting season..and missed several shotgun shells. Long story i was detained for 15 minutes, explained things and on my way I went, without charges. Apparently its quite common for hunters and law enforcement. It happens, dont stress-
     
  9. Six

    Six Member

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    I would probably want to talk to a lawyer with some understanding of the laws involved.

    Otherwise you have no idea of what will be put in what database.
     
  10. rl2669

    rl2669 Member

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    You might want to contact an attorney about this. Some states that have discretionary CCW issuance will probably deny you for having ANY firearms law violation on your record. Think CA, MA, NY, etc.
     
  11. leadcounsel

    leadcounsel member

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    Where is the language that says a toy gun is not allowed?

    Is this a civil penalty or a citation or admission of guilt to a criminal act?

    I'd inspect the heck out of your options before I paid a fine (which could retroactively become something worse ala the domestic violence misdemeanor convictions).
     
  12. medalguy

    medalguy Member

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    TSA regulations prohibit firearms, starter guns, pellet guns, or realistic replicas of firearms. I think this would include BB guns. They can be checked but not carried on an aircraft:

    http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm

    Just FYI a BB gun is not a toy gun, but either description would be covered by TSA regs. The penalty they assessed you is a CIVIL penalty although in extreme cases they can also initiate criminal prosecution:

    http://www.tsa.gov/research/laws/editorial_1504.shtm

    I would suggest you contact an attorney ASAP. Be prepared to pay the civil penalty but first ascertain if there might be any criminal prosecution pending, but I doubt it. That's pretty extreme and rarely done.
     
  13. zhyla

    zhyla Member

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    I agree, get some legal counsel. They may tell you to pay the fine, they may tell you to give them the finger. My concern with the "just pay it" advice is that you may admitting to a crime when in reality this is just a miscommunication (you honestly thought the line was for checking luggage).
     
  14. Sin

    Sin Member

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    Thanks for all the comments guys...

    It seems that the general consensus is to contact a lawyer/get legal advice before proceeding. I'm not really sure it would be worth it if I could just get this matter cleared as a civil penalty for a meager $125, but I'm also not sure if doing so would be, as some of you say, an admission of guilt to trying to carry a firearm onto a plane... which would look terrible on any kind of future permanent record.
    I don't want to drag this out with legal proceedings, but I'm applying to grad school soon, and soon after that hopefully moving on to a job in the gov't, so I really don't want to risk having something like this on a record somewhere (Showing up on background checks? Does it even work that way?).

    I'll keep you guys updated as things progress.
     
  15. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    GET A LAWYER NOW!!!

    49 USC §46505 appears to provide massive felony-level penalties for violation of the code you cited. EVEN IF YOU ONLY PAY A SMALL FINE YOU COULD BE BARRED FROM GUN OWNERSHIP FOR LIFE. Your counsel, who should be someone familiar with federal criminal law, needs to assess precisely what it is they're wanting you to plead guilty to. These aren't traffic cops and this isn't a traffic ticket. It's the same code provision used to put away terrorists with huge bombs.
     
  16. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Member

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    49 USC §46505 appears to provide massive felony-level penalties for violation of the code you cited.

    I have received a Notice of Violation stating that my possession of the item violated 49 C.F.R. 1540.111(a) of the Transportation Security Regulations.
    The letter proposes to assess a civil penalty in the amount of $250, or $125 in full payment if received within 30 days.


    45505 does give felony penalties for criminal prosecution of violations. The OP said he was charged under 1540.111 and assessed s civil penalty.
     
  17. nyrifleman

    nyrifleman Member

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    Don't pay it!

    One of the options they offer in the letter that you receive is to "request an informal hearing". The TSA seems to be pretty lenient to first-time offenders.

    First time I ever flew with firearms, I didn't realize I had to declare a firearm in checked luggage. The firearm was unloaded and locked up, and I thought that would be enough. Yes, I was VERY stupid and naive. With my heart in my throat, I called the TSA and the person I got ahold of advised me to take the informal hearing option. I did that, and got a call about 3 weeks later. The lady listened to my story (not much of one, I mostly apologized for being an idiot and promised not to do it again... and I definitely will not), sounded very understanding, and told me she would advise her supervisor to cancel the fine. A few weeks later, I got a letter saying the fine had been dropped.

    Considering how stringent and serious TSA checks are these days, I was very surprised at finding them so lenient. YMMV, I suppose.
     
  18. gc70

    gc70 Member

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    From TSA's Enforcement Sanctions Guidance Policy:

    The listed civil penalty range for the above violation is $250-$1,500.

    Other types of violations explicitly list criminal referrals.
     
  19. Archie

    Archie Member

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    A 'civil penalty' is in the same category of violation as a parking ticket. It is not a felony, it is not a crime. There is a record of the event; agencies must keep track of what they do in terms of 'enforcement' and certainly have to keep records of penalties issued.

    Under current federal law, this should not interfere with any future firearms purchases. However, you may be 'flagged' in the future for screening. Which is probably no big shock to you.

    You can pay the penalty now and be done with it, or hire a lawyer to fight it costing a great deal more. Either way, it's not a crime or felony and you have no criminal conviction.

    Liking it is optional.

    I used to deal with civil penalties with another federal agency. That ended when I retired.
     
  20. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    There's no charging provision in that statute, it just sets the law. The charging provisions, and the potential range of fines and time, are in another place. Is this really a mere civil penalty they're proposing? What about potential criminal charges? What exactly are they proposing? None of us have seen the notice or heard what they told the OP. The law is complex and the worst case scenario nothing short of life-destroying. This is one of those situations where you REALLY need a lawyer before you agree to diddly.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2011
  21. scrood?

    scrood? Member

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    no judge, no jury, no trial... no due process...

    I highly doubt it is a conviction under law. My suggestion, dont pay, make them come after you so you can fight it.
     
  22. LoneStranger

    LoneStranger Member

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    Sin; The reason you should hire a Lawyer and be Advised as to Who is Doing What To Whom and When They Are Doing It!, is because you have shot yourself in the foot once already(Pun Intended) and the great lesson in life is to try and not make the same mistake more than twice.

    If you are not very well trained in how words work you will be shooting yourself at least one more time in failing to get Legal Counsel. Yes, I took note of your statement about College Schooling but that will most likely give you false sense of knowledge which leads to "Shot Foot" syndrome.

    Again, the purpose for seeking Legal Counsel is to make sure that if you pay the $125 you revert as much as possible to a No Harm, No Foul state of being.

    Best of luck and here's hoping that your legal fees are minimal so that you can chalk this up to one of life's lessons.
     
  23. Prince Yamato

    Prince Yamato Member

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    If you weren't arrested, I doubt it was really serious. The fine is more to punish careless people (sorry!) who do things like forget they have nail clippers or straight razors (or a BB gun) in their luggage or are too lazy to dispose of them before they do the security check. If you are suddenly denied a weapons purchase for this, you have grounds for a massive lawsuit. Frankly, I wouldn't worry about it, just don't do it again... ever.

    Pay the $125, it's not that much. If you really want peace of mind, contact a lawyer to make sure what you did wasn't felonious. They will probably tell you what I typed above.
     
  24. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Member

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    no judge, no jury, no trial... no due process...

    Not necessarily a bad thing. It's like you get a parking ticket and just pay it.

    One of the options they offer in the letter that you receive is to "request an informal hearing". The TSA seems to be pretty lenient to first-time offenders

    Keep in mind that the fine can also go up at the end of the hearing. I worked for a federal agency that issued summons and assessed penalties like TSA is doing with you. One guy was assessed $1000 penalty demanded his hearing tied people up all day and at the end it cost him $5000 for the penalty plus $2000 for his lawyer.

    Ask for a hearing but they are already offering you a bargain basement penalty (plan on $250 if you go to a hearing).

    My suggestion, dont pay, make them come after you so you can fight it.

    Follow this advice and you most likely will wind up being charged criminally.

    Hey you did what they say you did, you admit it, it can all go away for $125.
     
  25. FreakFlyer

    FreakFlyer Member

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    I accidentally had a road flare in my backpack. After receiving an NOV 3 months after the fact here is how I replied. I subsequently received a letter from TSA saying that the violation had been rescinded and that the Notice of Violation would serve as an adequate warning. Not sure if this would work with a more serious violation but it was worth kissing a little butt to not have to pay :) Feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions and I will try to reply in a timely manner.

    ===============================================
    February *, 20**

    Case # N***

    Agent*****


    Dear Agent *****,


    I am in receipt of the letter dated 01-28-2011 sent to me regarding the above NOV.

    I would respectfully like to request a waiver of my fine (option 3); the reason being that, like many Americans right now, I am financially destitute. I was laid off from my job in July of last year. I was receiving unemployment benefits up until the first of the year but they have since stopped. I have applied for emergency benefits but to date have not received any. While I am hopeful that I will find work in the near future I currently have only a few hundred dollars to my name, most of which will be claimed by rent, groceries, utilities and medical expenses.

    On November **, 20**, I submitted to the screening process at *** International Airport. At that time I was discovered to be in possession of a Road Flare. Whenever I go through TSA I try to pack in such a way that it is easy for TSA to complete a quick and thorough inspection of my belongings out of consideration for my fellow travelers as well as TSA personnel. On this particular occasion I simply forgot that I had a flare in my back pack. I had placed it there a few days earlier in case I needed to make a fire during a hike in inclement weather in the nearby mountains.

    When the TSA screener informed me of the contraband the my jaw dropped. I was sure I would be arrested or at the very least detained which would result in me missing my flight. Instead the TSA agent was very understanding and listened patiently to my explanation. He informed me that the item would be confiscated and that he would need to take some contact information but he also went out of his way to be courteous and professional. He assured me that I would be delayed for but a short time and he was true to his word.I made my flight with plenty of time to spare and was relieved that I had not carried, even inadvertently, an object that could be a danger to myself and fellow passengers.

    I was so impressed with my treatment by TSA that, upon arriving at my destination in Minnesota, I took the time to contact TSA via their website to
    tell them how impressed I was at the way I was treated by all TSA persons involved.

    I know that TSA has taken a lot of heat lately for enhanced screening procedures. While I understand that many people are upset about the heightened security I always make it a point to tell them my story of how courteous TSA treated me so that perhaps people can appreciate how difficult a task it must be for you to balance the safety of air passengers with the dignity of those same travelers.

    If you could somehow find it in your heart to excuse me from any penalties in this matter it would be greatly appreciated but please know that even if you decide not to waive any penalty in this instance I will not think any less of TSA and will always appreciate the work you do on behalf of this nation's security.


    Respectfully,

    **********
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2011
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