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Your Rights When Getting Arrested in a Los Angeles Airport

Having Rights Gives You Freedom. Knowing Your Rights Gives You Power

Airports can be confusing and hard to navigate, and the added police presence which is designed to keep us safe can often have the opposite effect. The police and other law enforcement agencies at Los Angeles area airports are instructed to be extra vigilant, but the side effect of this added watchfulness is that almost everyone becomes a suspect in their narrow view of travelers visiting the airport.

Types of Airport Security

If you’ve been suspected of committing a crime in a Los Angeles airport, you may encounter one or more of the different types of airport security and law enforcement in Los Angeles area airports. The two main airport security agencies are the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and local law enforcement departments. If someone is coming into the country on an international flight, they will be inspected by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The TSA is a division of Homeland Security and is primarily responsible for screening passengers and baggage for terrorism threats. The TSA does not have the power to make an arrest; however, a TSA agent can detain you until local law enforcement arrives.

Local law enforcement agencies such as the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles Airport Police, and the Los Angeles Police Department, are responsible for investigating crimes that occur at Los Angeles area airports.

Can the Police Ask Me Questions at a Los Angeles Airport?

Many airport arrests are disputed because of a Fourth Amendment violation. The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. Most searches and seizures of property in an airport begin with some form of initial contact with law enforcement. The police can lawfully interact with you at a Los Angeles area airport without violating your rights under certain circumstances.

Consensual Encounter in an Airport

If the initial interaction with law enforcement officers in the airport is considered to be a consensual encounter, the airport police generally do not violate your Fourth Amendment rights by merely approaching you in an airport and asking you if you are willing to answer some questions. In addition, your rights are not typically violated if a law enforcement officer walks up to you and solely identifies themselves as a police officer while in an airport.

It’s important to know that in either case, you have the right to not answer any of the police’s questions and you are free to walk away during a consensual encounter because you are not being detained or arrested.

Being Detained in an Airport

If you were detained in a Los Angeles area airport, the police have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they had a legal reason to detain you. In order to be detained by the police in an airport, the following must be true:

  • That you either consented to be detained; or
  • The police suspect that:
    • You have been involved in an activity relating to a crime; or
    • You are currently involved in an activity relating to a crime; or
    • You are about to be involved in an activity relating to a crime; and
  • Any other reasonable officer presented with the same facts would have the same suspicion to detain you.

Arrested in an Airport

A police officer may legally arrest you in a California airport without a warrant if they have probable cause to make the arrest. Probable cause means that when you were arrested, the airport law enforcement officer making the arrest had evidence that would convince another reasonable person that you in fact committed a crime.

Unless you are in the act of committing a crime, fleeing from a crime, or have escaped custody in a California airport, the arresting officer must tell you:

  • That they intend to arrest you;
  • Why the arrest is being made;
  • The authority for the arrest; and
  • Tell you the offense or offenses you are being arrested for if you ask the officer for that information.

What Happens When Someone Gets Arrested at an Airport in Los Angeles?

If you are arrested in any of the following airports, your case will typically end up in a State or Federal Court:

  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • Burbank Bob Hope Airport (BUR)
  • Long Beach Airport (LGB)
  • Orange County/John Wayne Airport (SNA)
  • Ontario Airport (ONT)
  • Brackett Field Airport
  • Compton/Woodley Airport
  • San Gabriel Valley Airport
  • General William J. Fox Airfield
  • Whiteman Airport

Airport Cases Handled by the State of California

When you are arrested in a Los Angeles area airport, you are typically taken to the Los Angeles Police Department, Pacific Division, and booked. If your case is handled by state authorities, you are either given a citation, or you are taken into custody.

State cases end up at the Los Angeles Airport Court, which is a Superior Court of California belonging to the West Judicial District of Los Angeles. The Airport Courthouse is located at 11701 S. La Cienega in Los Angeles, 3 miles from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

Once in custody, you will be held until you appear before Judge Keith Schwartz at the Airport Courthouse. Judge Schwartz will decide your bail and if you are released, you will be ordered to attend the next court date he will set.

Federal Airport Arrest Cases

If your airport crime is a Federal Matter, then you are taken to Federal Lockup at the airport or you are transported to a Federal Courthouse. On the next available date, you will appear before a Federal Judge, who will then decide your fate.

How to Help Someone Arrested at the Airport

If you or a loved one has been arrested in a Southern California airport, typically a phone call to William Kroger Attorney at Law will get the ball rolling to help you get released from custody. Even if you are in jail, our bail agent will work with you or your family for your release.

Depending on the charges, there is a good chance if you do not have a prior record that we may be able to get the case dismissed or lowered to a lesser charge.

Hiring an Airport Arrest Attorney in Los Angeles

Hi, I’m Attorney William Kroger.

If you’ve been arrested at an airport in the southern California area, you may be feeling overwhelmed and uncertain of what to do next. An airport arrest can be a confusing and stressful experience, but you don’t have to go through it alone.

I have helped thousands of people gain control over their lives with successful results in their airport arrest cases. My promise to you is to use my experience and knowledge to fight for you. If you're facing an airport arrest, you need an attorney who will tenaciously advocate for you and give you the best chance to win your case.

Call me at 323-655-5700 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation. I’ll answer all of your questions and help you understand your options. Let me put my experience to work for you so that you can move on with your life.

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