The Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, or Detroit Metro Airport, is commonly listed among the busiest airports in the country, serving Michigan residents and travelers from throughout the U.S. and across the world. The McNamara Terminal is filled with retail shops and restaurants for busy flyers, and thousands of people move through the terminal every day. While most travelers arrive at Detroit Metro Airport and board their flights with few serious interruptions, individuals frequently are charged with crimes and traffic offenses at the airport. Whether you are a traveler and are detained for a checkpoint violation or are accused of retail fraud, our experienced criminal defense attorneys can help with your case.
Types of Detroit Airport Crimes and Traffic Offenses We Handle
At the Michigan Defense Law, we have significant experience handling a wide variety of criminal matters and traffic offenses from Detroit Metro Airport. Indeed, we have successfully resolved many of these cases for clients in ways that have left their records clean and have allowed them to avoid having to personally appear in court. The following are just some of the types of airport defense cases we handle:
- Retail Fraud at the Airport;
- Getting Into Arguments with Airline People;
- TSA Checkpoint Violations, or Going Into Restricted Areas at the Airport;
- Drug Possession, or Getting Caught with Drugs at the Airport; and
- Dangerous Weapon Offenses, or Weapons Going Through Airport Security.
The Wayne County Airport Police are constantly on high alert for criminal activity, and individuals are often wrongly accused. At the same time, sometimes people simply make mistakes and do not deserve to face the consequences of a misdemeanor or felony conviction simply because of single incident involving poor judgment. Whether you have been wrongly accused or need help avoiding some of the serious penalties that apply even to first-time offenders, it is important to discuss your case with a criminal defense lawyer in Detroit.
Many traffic tickets are issued by the Romulus Police Department and the Airport Police Department around Wayne County Airport. Often, out of state travelers just decide to pay their tickets rather than fighting them because of the inconvenience. People should understand that these tickets will usually be shared with your home state through the Interstate Compact and the points will appear just as if your received the ticket in your own state. Our office can handle all civil infractions in the Romulus District Court without you needing to be present with us. Often, we are able to negotiate results that do not appear on your driving record. Call for more information about this convenient service that can protect your insurance rates for years to come.
Penalties for Detroit Metro Airport Crimes
Under Section 22 of the Wayne County Airport Authority Airport Ordinance, or the Airport Rules and Regulations, there are serious penalties for committing a crime (e.g., Section 6, Section 9, Section 11, Section 14, and Section 15) or traffic violation (Section 18) at Detroit Metro Airport. The following are examples of penalties based on the level of the offense:
- Administrative Penalty: a monetary penalty of up to $1,000.
- Misdemeanor: If you are convicted of a violation of any of the laws that are punishable as a misdemeanor offense, you will be assessed a fine not to exceed $500.00 and the costs of prosecution. In addition, you can be sentenced to a term of imprisonment not to exceed 90 days.
Airport cases are assigned to the 34th District Court, which is located at 11121 Wayne Road in Romulus, Michigan. Felony charges begin in Romulus, but then end up in downtown Detroit at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice. The phone number to the court in Romulus is 734-941-4462.
Getting Caught with Drugs at the Airport
Getting caught with drugs at Detroit Metro Airport can result in serious criminal penalties under both the Wayne County Airport Authority Airport Ordinance (also known as the Airport Rules and Regulations), and the Michigan Public Health Code (Section 333.7403). Possessing drugs and other controlled substances at the airport is a grave offense, and it is extremely important to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are facing charges. If you are convicted of a drug offense, you can face a substantial monetary offense in addition to a term of imprisonment.
Moreover, the consequences of a drug offense conviction do not end once you have served out your sentence. Indeed, there are lifelong repercussions of both misdemeanor and felony drug convictions. You may not be approved for loans and other lines of credit, you may not be eligible for certain jobs or promotions, and you may be turned down after turning in a housing rental applications. In addition, many drug crimes appear on your driving record even when they don’t involve driving. This results in police wanting to search your vehicle more frequently when stopped even for routine offenses. If you get caught with drugs at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, what types of charges are you likely to face?
Drug, Alcohol, and Controlled Substance Charges Under the Airports Rules and Regulations
Under Section 6.37 of the Airport Rules and Regulations, it is illegal to possess a controlled substance or drug paraphernalia. Controlled substances are defined by Michigan law (MCL 333.7101 et seq.), and can include many different types of illegal and prescription drugs. While it is not illegal to have a prescription drug in your possession that has been prescribed for you, it is illegal to possess certain prescription drugs for which you do not have a valid prescription.
In addition to controlled substances, the Airport Rules and Regulations also make it illegal to possess any kind of drug paraphernalia, which the law defines broadly as any equipment, product, materials, or combination that is designed in any way to grow, cultivate, produce, manufacture, process, package, store, or use drugs. If you violate the municipal law, you can be charged with a misdemeanor offense.
While it is a violation of the law for a person of any age to possess controlled substances of drug paraphernalia, Section 6.36 of the Airport Rules and Regulations also prohibit alcohol purchases and possession by anyone under the age of 21. An individual who violates Section 6.36 is guilty of a misdemeanor.
Michigan Laws and Drug Crimes
The laws outlined in the Airport Rules and Regulations are not the only ones that prohibit possession of drugs and other controlled substances at Detroit Metro Airport. Under Michigan law, it is unlawful to knowingly or intentionally possess controlled substances at an airport or elsewhere.
A person who violates the law can be found guilty of a drug offense ranging from a misdemeanor to a felony. The level of the offense depends largely on the amount and type of controlled substance in the individual’s possession. For the most egregious felony drug offenses, getting caught at the airport can result in a punishment of up to life imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $1,000,000.
Weapons Going Through Airport Security
When you are traveling from Detroit Metro Airport and going through security, you need to be extremely careful about having any weapons on you that could result in criminal charges. Whether you live in Michigan and Detroit Metro Airport is your home base, or if you have a particularly long layover in Detroit and decide to leave the airport and go back through security before your flight, you need to be aware of weapons offenses under both the Wayne County Airport Authority Airport Ordinance (“Airport Rules and Regulations”), and Section 259.80f of the Aeronautics Code of the State of Michigan. Depending upon the specific nature of the violation, a defendant can face misdemeanor or felony penalties.
Were you charged with a misdemeanor dangerous weapon offense? A Detroit airport crimes defense attorney can help.
Airport Rules and Regulations and Dangerous Weapons
Under Section 11.5 of the Airport Rules and Regulations, it is a violation to “possess a dangerous weapon in any area of the airport.” This means that you cannot possess a dangerous weapon in any airport buildings, airport terminals, airfields, aircraft and aircraft vehicles, and even in the airport parking lot. In other words, if you are planning to pick up someone from the airport or to take a flight out of Detroit Metro Airport, you cannot have a prohibited weapon with you. In particular, attempting to go through a TSA Checkpoint with a prohibited weapon can lead to Checkpoint Violations and serious repercussions.
Examples of dangerous weapons include but are not limited to the following:
- Spring sticks;
- Metal knuckles;
- Sand clubs;
- Bows and arrows;
- Certain flailing instruments;
- Throwing stars;
- Stun guns; and
- Other shock devices.
As you can see, there are numerous weapons on the list that are legal to possess outside the setting of the airport, but that become unlawful possessions if you attempt to take them onto the airport premises and through a security checkpoint. A violation of Section 11.5 is a misdemeanor offense.
Michigan Airport Law and Weapons Offenses
Under Section 259.80f of the Aeronautics Code of the State of Michigan, it is unlawful to possess, carry, or attempt to possess or carry certain items into the sterile area of a commercial airport. Those items include the following weapons:
- Knives with a blade of any length;
- Box cutters;
- Items with blades similar to razors or box cutters; and
- Dangerous weapons.
Persons who violate the law can be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony offense depending upon the circumstances. A misdemeanor is punishable with a fine of up to $1,000 and up to one year in prison. When an individual violates the above law and attempts to go through security and board an airplane with one of the above items, it is a felony offense that is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Getting Into Arguments With Airline or Airport Personnel
Unlike many other locations where there are large public crowds, airline passengers and other at Detroit Metro Airport do not necessarily have the same rights that they would have at other retail locations or places of mass transportation. One of the most common ways that individuals face criminal offenses at the Detroit Metro Airport is by getting into arguments with airline people, or airline employees. Air travel can be stressful and frustrating, especially when your flight is canceled or delayed. Whether you get angry going through security or while waiting to board a delayed flight, it is important to avoid getting into a dispute with an airport or airline employee.
The Wayne County Airport Authority Airport Ordinance, or the Airport Rules and Regulations, prohibit certain behaviors at Detroit Metro Airport, and these can include arguments with airline workers. If you are facing one of the following offenses, it is important to discuss your defense options with our criminal defense attorneys.
Disputes Within the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport
Whether you are arguing with an airline employee due to a delayed or canceled flight, or you are engaged in a dispute for another reason, you can face charges under Section 11.
If you do any of the following, or argue with airport personnel about any of the following, you can face charges:
- Failing to promptly and without delay comply with a lawful order from a Police Officer at the airport (Section 6.19);
- Failing to promptly and without delay comply with a lawful order from the owner or operator of an Aircraft to leave the aircraft (Section 6.20);
- Arguing with airport personnel about storing, keeping, handling, using, dispensing, or transporting any prohibited materials such as explosives, gasoline, or alcohol, even if the substance is not illegal to possess outside the airport (Section 9.10);
- Arguing with airport personnel about tampering with Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) equipment (Section 9.19);
- Interfere with, assault, threaten, or intimidate screening, inspection, or any other Airport Security personnel in the performance of their duties (Section 11.4);
- Divulging sensitive security information to individuals who do not have an operational need for that information in the course of arguing with an airline employee or airport personnel (Section 11.9);
- Prohibiting someone from entering a public area of the airport during your argument (Section 11.10);
- Make any fraudulent or intentionally false statement, even if you are engaged in an argument (Section 11.12);
- Erect, post, distribute, or display signs, bills, leaflets, or other visual or auditory advertising matter upon Airport premises (Section 14.17), for which a penalty is a misdemeanor (Section 14.18); and
- Arguing with airport personnel about your activities involving picketing in public areas (Section 15.17, 15.18).
Penalties for violations of the misdemeanor offenses listed above primarily are outlined under Section 22 of the Airport Rules and Regulations. It is important to note that the list above is not all-inclusive. You can face charges for other offenses depending upon your specific actions if and when you get into an argument with airport or airline personnel.
Going Into Restricted Areas at the Airport
When you are at Detroit Metro Airport, you are required to abide by Wayne County Airport Authority Airport Ordinance, or the Airport Rules and Regulations, which prohibit passengers (and other persons without express authority) to access certain areas of the airport. When you do not live in Michigan and are simply transiting through Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport en route to another destination, it can be scary and frustrating to realize that you are being charged with a crime and need to find an experienced Detroit airport crimes lawyer to assist with your case.
If you enter a Security Sensitive Area at Detroit Metro Airport, or if you enter a Sterile Area or board an aircraft without first going through TSA passenger screening and inspection, you can be subject to a misdemeanor charge under the law. Were you recently charged with a misdemeanor offense that involved going into a restricted area at the airport? An aggressive Michigan criminal defense attorney can help with your case. At Michigan Defense Law, we have significant experience assisting defendants who are facing airport crimes offenses, including TSA checkpoint violations, retail fraud, drug posession, assault and batter, disorderly conduct, and dangerous weapon charges.
Security Sensitive Areas and Michigan Airport Law
Under Section 11.3 of the Airport Rules and Regulations, there are Security Sensitive Areas within Detroit Metro Airport. Access to these areas is limited to authorized personnel. Anyone who violates the law can be charged with a misdemeanor. Entering a Security Sensitive Area can involve violations of more than one subsection of Section 11, which can result in additional charges, such as:
- In entering a Security Sensitive Area, Section 11.4 of the Airport Rules and Regulations clarifies that you can face charges if you attempt to circumvent any security system, measure, or procedure;
- Entering, or being present in a Security Sensitive Area without complying with security measures can result in charges;
- Interfering with, assaulting, threatening, or intimidating certain airport security personnel in entering a Security Sensitive Area is a violation of the law; and
- Forging, altering, duplicating, or using identification to enter a Security Sensitive Area when you should not have access is a violation of the Airport Rules and Regulations.
Passenger Screening Points and Aircraft Boarding
Some areas at Detroit Metro Airport are simply restricted to travelers. In other words, it does not matter what type of screening you go through—you are not permitted to access restricted areas like Security Sensitive Areas. Other areas can be restricted, however, if a passenger refuses to go through proper screening procedures.
For example, under Section 11.11 of the Airport Rules and Regulations, a person is prohibited from entering a Sterile Area or boarding an aircraft without first going through TSA screening. This kind of checkpoint violation can mean that you are in a restricted area in violation of the law and can face misdemeanor charges. The Wayne County Airport Police can detain you and not only prevent you from taking your flight, but can also arrest you for the offense.
Retail Fraud at the Airport
Whether you are waiting to board a flight in Detroit Metro Airport’s McNamara Terminal or are elsewhere in the airport, there are numerous retail establishments in which a person can be accused of shoplifting. Under Michigan law (Michigan Penal Code Section 750.356), shoplifting is defined as “retail fraud.” From higher end stores such as Brooks Brothers and Pandora to shops selling quick items for your flight, such as CNBC or Dylan’s Candy Bar, you can be accused of retail fraud or shoplifting. An individual can be charged with different levels of retail fraud depending upon the specific facts of the alleged crime, including the amount of property that was stolen.
Facing retail fraud charges should be taken extremely seriously. If convicted, you will not only face the immediate consequences such as a monetary fine and/or jail time, but you will also face the long-term consequences of having a criminal record. Our Detroit criminal defense attorneys can help to build your retail fraud defense case today. Retail fraud is considered a crime of moral turpitude for immigration purposes. Deportation consequences can occur. In addition, crimes involving theft or dishonesty may be used against you in civil lawsuits and brought out in depositions. It is important to try and avoid having convictions for retail fraud on your record. It is not just a “ticket” you should pay and not worry about. It is a serious legal matter.
Understanding Retail Fraud Under Michigan Law
Under Michigan law, retail fraud can be categorized either as a felony offense (retail fraud in the first degree) or a misdemeanor offense (retail fraud in the second or third degree). The level of the offense depends upon a number of different factors, including the specific alleged actions of the defendant that defrauded the retail establishment, as well as the amount of property allegedly stolen.
Retail Fraud in the First Degree (Felony)
The following are elements of a felony retail fraud in the first degree offense (Michigan Penal Code Section 750.356c):
- Alters, transfers, removes and replaces, conceals, or otherwise misrepresents the price of property for sale in a store, while the store is open, with the intention of paying less for the property than the asking price, with a price difference of $1,000 or more;
- Steals property worth $1,000 or more while a store is open; and/or
- Makes an exchange or refund with the intent to defraud the store for $1,000 or more.
When a person is convicted of retail fraud in the first degree, the penalties can include:
- Up to 5 years imprisonment; and/or
- Monetary fine of up to $10,000, or three times the value of the property stolen (or that the defendant attempted to steal)—whichever is greater.
Retail Fraud in the Second Degree (Misdemeanor)
The following are elements of a misdemeanor retail fraud in the second degree offense (Michigan Penal Code Section 750.356d):
- Alters, transfers, removes and replaces, conceals, or otherwise misrepresents the price of property for sale in a store, while the store is open, with the intention of paying less for the property than the asking price, with a price difference of more than $200 but less than $1,000;
- Steals property worth more than $200 but less than $1,000 or more while a store is open; and/or
- Makes an exchange or refund with the intent to defraud the store for more than $200 but less than $1,000.
When a person is convicted of retail fraud in the first degree, the penalties can include:
- Up to one year imprisonment; and/or
- Monetary fine of up to $2,000, or three times the value of the property stolen (or that the defendant attempted to steal)—whichever is greater.
Retail Fraud in the Third Degree (Misdemeanor)
The following are elements of a misdemeanor retail fraud in the third degree offense (Michigan Penal Code Section 750.356d):
- Alters, transfers, removes and replaces, conceals, or otherwise misrepresents the price of property for sale in a store, while the store is open, with the intention of paying less for the property than the asking price, with a price difference of less than $200;
- Steals property worth less than $200 while a store is open; and/or
- Makes an exchange or refund with the intent to defraud the store for less than $200.
When a person is convicted of retail fraud in the first degree, the penalties can include:
- Up to 93 days imprisonment; and/or
- Monetary fine of up to $500, or three times the value of the property stolen (or that the defendant attempted to steal)—whichever is greater.
Contact an Airport Criminal Defense Lawyer in Detroit
If you stand accused of violating the law at Detroit Metro Airport, you should seek assistance from a Michigan airport criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
At Michigan Defense Law, we have experience with cases involving the Wayne County Airport Police and fighting against charges of airport offenses. We can seek to have your case resolved in a way that keeps your record clean and prevents you from having to appear in court. Contact us for more information about how we can assist with your case.