State Representative Bob Cupp (R-Lima) introduced a bill this week which would make it an unlawful act to use a drone to commit a crime.  More specifically, if enacted, the bill would make it an additional crime to use a drone to engage in specific activity that would be a crime if the person did the act by him or her self directly.

“With the increase in the availability of drones of all sizes and capabilities - including the ability of drones to photograph, video record, shoot projectiles, and reach places where an innocent person would otherwise be out of harm’s way - this bill seeks to pre-emptively get ahead of a new wave of criminal conduct that utilizes drone technology, “ said Rep. Cupp.

The bill does not address non-criminal issues such as permitting requirements, use in law enforcement activities, non-criminal flying restrictions or whether pre-authorization is required to fly the drone.

The specific underlying crimes (for which the use of a drone to commit the crime would be an additional offense) are: 1) Aggravated menacing, 2) Menacing by stalking, 3) Menacing, 4) Voyeurism, 5) Vandalism, 6) Criminal damaging or endangering, 7) Criminal mischief; safety device defined, 8) Endangering aircraft or airport operations, 9) Discharge of laser into cockpit of aircraft, 10) Vehicular vandalism, 11) Terrorism, 12) Aggravated burglary, 13) Disorderly conduct, 14) Disturbing a lawful meeting, 15) Misconduct at an emergency, 16) Inducing panic, 17) Hoax weapon of mass destruction, 18) Obstructing official business, 19) Aiding escape, 20) Burglary; trespass in a habitation when a person is present or likely to be present, 21) Breaking and entering, 22) Railroad vandalism; criminal trespass on locomotive, engine, railroad car, or other railroad vehicle; interference with operation of train; criminal trespass on land or premises of railroad company, and, 23) Railroad grade crossing device vandalism.

Use of a drone to commit a criminal offense would be a strict liability offense.  The mens rea of the underlying crime would be applicable only to the underlying crime.

Cupp is serving his first term as state representative but was a member of the Ohio Senate from 1985 to 2000, and served as Senate President Pro Tempore from 1997 to 2000.  A former Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio, he has the distinction of being the only former judge currently serving in the state legislature. Cupp has also served as Lima City Prosecutor and Allen County Commissioner, and is a lifelong Allen County resident. He represents the 4th Ohio House District, which consists of all of Allen County.

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