A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use
In another case from 1999, a high school senior in Gloucester County received a six-month prison sentence for shining a six-dollar laser pointer in the eye of a sheriff’s deputy.
The teenager appealed, arguing nothing touched the deputy because lasers have no mass. The Court of Appeals also upheld that conviction, ruling that a battery occurred because shining a light beam at someone can be considered 'unlawful touching."
One judge warned the battery-by-light-beams theory went too far.
“Will the next prosecution for battery be based upon failure to dim high beams in traffic, flash photography too close to the subject, high intensity flashlight beams or sonic waves from a teenager’s car stereo?” the dissenting judge wrote.
The General Assembly later passed a law specifying that pointing lasers at cops is a misdemeanor.
The case was cited as the Commonwealth's legislature debated a bill to "defelonize" non-injurious assaults on law enforcement officers. As of 2020, the law has a mandatory minimum jail term of six months. An example of an egregious case included a woman who hit an officer with a piece of onion ring. A Commonwealth Attorney said she often sees behaviors such as pushing, spitting or elbowing during a situation — not premeditated attacks on unsuspecting officers.
From the Virginia Mercury. LaserPointerSafety.com was unable to find any additional links or references to the 1999 case.
The Virginia Beach City Public Schools’ “Code of Student Conduct” prohibits weapons in school. It specifically addresses pointers: “When a laser pen is used to threaten, intimidate or injure, it is considered a weapon.”
The boy’s father, Paul Mulcahy, told LaserPointerSafety.com that his son only aimed a legal, low-powered laser pointer at lockers and the wall in Landstown Middle School. He said it was never used in an aggressive or potentially harmful manner. Mulcahy's account was not disputed by the school.
Mulcahy wrote “no kid should be suspended or expelled for having a cat toy at school…. A ‘spork’ from the cafeteria if used to threaten, intimidate or injure would be a more likely weapon than a 2 mW laser pointer.”
During an initial meeting on May 30, principal John Parkman told Mulcahy he was instructed to use a “Discipline Guidelines” document not available to parents, students or the public. The principal did email the father a page from the Discipline Guidelines about laser pointers which seemed to restate the Code of Conduct language. (The VBCPS Office of Student Leadership confirmed on June 11 that the Discipline Guidelines are "administration-only.")
At a second meeting on June 2, the principal said the VBCPS Office of Student Leadership decided the infraction was “Inappropriate Property” and there would be no further punishment or action beyond the two-week suspension that had already occurred.
The Code of Student Conduct defines inappropriate property as follows: “The unauthorized possession of use of any type of personal property, which disrupts the educational process, is prohibited. Specifically prohibited are electronic devices when they are not authorized or being used for academic purposes (including cell phones), lighters and other items deemed inappropriate….”
In the Discipline Guidelines, the recommended penalty for Inappropriate Property depends on the property. One option is a verbal warning or reprimand called “Level 1.” The penalty for the boy turned out to be Level 6, suspension 6-10 days. As stated above, Mulcahy had been told that expulsion was also possible. Expulsion is "Level 8," the highest punishment level.
On June 9, the school returned the laser pointer to Mulcahy.
Mulcahy says he has retained a lawyer and may take action against the principal and/or school board.
Click to read more...
On May 2 2019, around 8:40 pm, "an officer was driving northbound on Nutley Street when his vehicle was struck multiple times with a green laser pointer. A Fairfax County Police Officer also advised his vehicles had been struck by the laser pointer that night. A similar incident happened to another officer a few weeks before this incident."
From Tysons Reporter
Just after 2 a.m., two officers, dressed in full uniform, responded to the 12200 block of Water Elm Lane for a report of concern for a garage door that was left partially open. As they waited outside a home to speak to someone, one officer noticed a red laser pointed directly at them. Not knowing the source or purpose of the light, both officers took cover.
They saw the suspect standing on an apartment balcony nearby, in the 4400 block of Milroy Way. They went to the apartment and identified the suspect, who was cooperative. Officers determined the device was a small laser pointer.
Johnny A. Tela, 24, of Centreville, was issued a summons for pointing a laser at a law-enforcement officer (Va State code 18.2-57.01).
From a Fairfax County Police Department news story
The accompanying story is primarily about a crackdown on curfew violators. Only the photo and its caption mentions laser pointer violations. The full-sized photo can be seen at the Virginian-Pilot website.
From Pilot Online.com. More information on gun-shaped laser pointers and other incidents involving gun/pointers is here.