Our client, age 54, went to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) for a business trip to Boston. When he arrived, he found out that his flight was delayed by several hours. So, he decided to wait out the delay in comfort by getting a meal and watching some television at one of the airport restaurant / bars.
He decided to have a beer with his meal. He was not driving anywhere, so it was O.K., he reasoned. One beer led to two beers, which led to three beers. Before he knew it, he had lost count of how many beers he drank.
He then “blacked out” and left the restaurant. For reasons he does not fully understand, he somehow got onto the oversized luggage belt, sitting down and holding onto his carry-on luggage. He then rode the belt down the chute to the airfield itself. Once down on the tarmac, he got off the belt and stood up. Baggage handlers in the area asked him what he was doing and he apologized profusely, saying he had been drinking.
Baggage handlers said he seemed confused, which would be expected if one thought riding the baggage belt would lead one to an airplane seat and travel onto his destination city. Instead, he was standing on the concrete below the jets. Security came to the area and found our client’s boarding pass for a flight to Boston.
Security then called for the airport police and had our client sit in a chair while waiting for the police to arrive. After only a few minutes, he announced to security watching him that “I’m not going to try to disappear” and tried to walk away and open a door to another secured area. The door was locked, so our client got back on the conveyor belt for oversized luggage, sat down and rode it away from security.
Police then found him where the conveyor belt took our client, further below the airfield. When asked if he saw any signs stating “Restricted Area – No Trespassing,” our client refused to answer.
The client was then arrested by Los Angeles International Airport Police on charges of violating California Penal Code § 602(u)(1). He was later released to his wife at the LAX police station.
The next day, he checked himself into a 30-day residential alcohol treatment center in Orange County, from which he called Greg Hill & Associates. The client described what he knew had happened, but was unclear about why he was arrested for trespassing. He explained that he had been drinking at an airport restaurant and had some beer. He then blacked out and maybe opened up a door to a restricted area, but he really was not sure.
The client also stated that he had a prior DUI from four and a half years earlier.
Greg explained how such cases are generally handled at the Airport Courthouse, as he had handled one a few years earlier and had seen other attorneys at the Airport Courthouse handling such cases, too.
Greg then appeared on the client’s behalf at the Airport Courthouse for the arraignment. The complaint alleged a violation of Los Angeles Municipal Code § 171.02(n), entering a restricted area posted as closed to the public. The initial offer by the Los Angeles City Attorney assigned to the case was 60 days of county jail, 30 days of community service and $300 in court fines and fees. He would also be obligated for the period of probation (3 years) to stay away from LAX unless he had a ticket for air travel.
Greg was shocked by the severity of the offer. He then discussed the case facts with the prosecutor and showed her our client’s proof of having already attended a 30-day residential alcohol detox program. In response, the Los Angeles City Attorney handling the case deleted the 60-day county jail component of the offer as deemed served by the residential treatment.
Greg then showed the client the police report and discussed the offer with him. Greg encouraged the client to continue attending AA meetings and to provided him with an AA sign-in sheet to take with him to court the next court appearance.
Greg also reviewed the police report with the shocked client, who was astonished that he had no memory of riding the oversized baggage carousel and conveyor belt down to the tarmac and then behaving as he did.
When Greg returned to the Airport Court and showed the Los Angeles City Attorney handling the case our client’s continued AA treatment, she reduced the community service component to just fifteen days, vowing not to sweeten the deal any more.
Our client then accepted the offer, happy that Greg had pushed hard on the prosecutor to remove the jail component and then cut the community service in half.