What You Need to Know about Drone Crimes

David Lindsey, Attorney at Law

Personal drone use is a relatively new occurrence. But should you be concerned about drone crimes?

A few decades ago it would’ve been unfathomable for people to launch cameras and control them via remote control. But now, people of all ages and income levels own drones and use them for a variety of reasons. And just like most types of technological developments, the law is rushing to catch up with the tech.

If you’ve been accused of a drone crime, what should you know?

Flying a drone, also called an unmanned aerial system (UAS), is a perfectly legal act in Colorado. There are no regulations at the state level.

There are federal regulations, but these laws pertain to airports and drone interference with commercial and passenger planes. Colorado has no laws regarding what you can and cannot do with a drone, nor does Wyoming.

Only federal laws govern drone use. These laws include:

  • Commercial drones must adhere to the FAA’s Part 107 Small UAS Rule and obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate.
  • Hobbyist drone users must follow the FAA’s guidelines regarding recreational model aircraft and register drones that weigh more than .55 lbs. There are additional rules regarding airspace, altitude, and line-of-sight.
  • Government employee use of drones (fire and police departments) must operate under the FAA’s Part 107 rule or obtain a federal Certificate of Authorization.

Do I Need to Register My Drone?


According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), users must register all Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS or drones) weighing .55 lbs. Registrants classify their drones either under part 107 or the Exception for Recreational Flyers.

To learn more about drone registration, review this information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Can I Be Charged with a Drone Crime If There are No State Laws?

Despite the lack of state-level laws and regulations controlling drone use, it’s still possible to be charged with a crime as a result of your drone usage. This is because people violate other laws when using their drones.

In many cases, people are charged with crimes related to trespassing, invasion of privacy, stalking, and assault. Some states have implemented laws regarding drone use and interference with critical infrastructure facilities and more states are expected to do the same in the coming years.

In addition to the laws that drone users are subject to, other people can also be charged with drone-related crimes if they interfere with drone usage.

For example, someone who damages or destroys a drone is a federal crime because drones are classified by the FAA as aircraft. It’s also illegal to attack someone engaged in the authorized use of a drone. Essentially, the law views attacking a drone operator in much the same way it would attacking an airline pilot.

Drone laws continue to evolve and there is a chance they won’t look the same in five or ten years as they do right now. It’s one of the many reasons why it’s important to work with an attorney when accused of drone crimes.

To learn more about potential drone crime defenses or to discuss your situation with an attorney, contact David Lindsey to schedule a free consultation.

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