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Who Knew Joining the 'Mile High Club' Was a Federal Offense?

Joining the infamous "Mile High Club" -- having sex on an airplane -- may seem like a thrill for some, but getting caught will not be pleasant, as one couple recently discovered. A man and woman were arrested in June after allegedly engaging in sexual behavior on an Allegiant Air flight.

"I have made many mistakes in my life, none greater than this one," admitted the man, a former winemaker who lost his job, damaged his whole career and has suffered through a press frenzy that has destroyed his reputation.

This behavior was clearly ill-advised, but did you know it's also a federal offense? Indeed, the pair was charged with committing lewd, indecent, or obscene acts in public aboard an aircraft, a federal misdemeanor. If convicted at trial, they could each have faced up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

According to reports, the couple was accused of having oral sex in their seats in full view, unfortunately, of some other passengers. After one told the flight crew "this is not the sex education I wanted to give my teenage sons," they admonished the couple, but they allegedly only broke it off momentarily break while drinks and snacks were being distributed.

At least two passengers described what they had seen to law enforcement agents after the flight. One allegedly saw the man's exposed genitals during the incident, although the defendant denies that. The federal complaint describes a number of sex acts that are objectionable if performed in public.

The pair just pled guilty to the federal offense and each was let off with a $250 fine. Far worse than the embarrassing criminal conviction, however, was the public shame and embarrassment, the male defendant says.

He called his behavior "clearly inappropriate and inconsiderate" and issued a heartfelt apology to the airline, his family, friends and former colleagues, his co-defendant and "all those who have been hurt and offended by my actions." He also reproached some media outlets, particularly the Mail Tribune, for portraying him in "nothing but the worst possible light."

Being accused of a federal offense is frightening and unpleasant under any circumstances. Like this couple, many federal defendants suffer tremendous embarrassment and damage to their reputations even before anything has been proven. An experienced federal criminal defense attorney can often help save your reputation while fighting the charges in court.

Source: New York Daily News, "In-flight oral sex results in mere $250 fines but tanks reputations: report," Michael Walsh, Oct. 17, 2013

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