Domestic Drone Arrest Database Being Built by Defense Lawyers Group

A prominent defense lawyers group believes the number of American drone arrests will increase.

This photo taken March 26, 2013, shows flight test pilot Alex Gustafson carrying an InsituScanEagle unmanned aircraft in preparation for a flight in Arlington, Ore. (Don Ryan/AP Photo)

Flight test pilot Alex Gustafson carries an InsituScanEagle unmanned aircraft March 26 in Arlington, Ore.

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More drone arrests are coming to the United States, and a prominent group of defense lawyers wants their clients to be prepared.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers has set up a database of information to help lawyers defend clients who are arrested with the help of domestic drones, citing the lack of clear laws governing the use of unmanned aircraft.

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The information center will include state-by-state laws, court decisions relating to domestic drones and aerial surveillance and general updates about drone use in the United States.

"We're concerned there aren't adequate safeguards [against drone use by law enforcement]," says Norman Reimer, executive director of the group. "At the moment, law enforcement is basically going to be making up the rules as they go along, and that's very troubling from a constitutional perspective."

So far, only one American citizen, North Dakota resident Rodney Brossart, has been arrested with the help of a drone. But Reimer says it's only a matter of time until defense lawyers are forced to hash out the legalities in court. He says the database is designed to help lawyers through the process, and that it is "inevitable" that more people will be arrested with the help of a drone.

[MORE: Court Upholds Domestic Drone Use in Arrest of American Citizen]

"Until we get to a place where we have legislation, lawyers will have to be creative and aggressive in making sure courts are protecting their client's rights," Reimer says. "You can't put technology back in the box. Drones are going to be there and there will be valid, legitimate uses for them. But without any framework, any technological tool is subject to abuse by law enforcement."

 

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