No doubt it can be a shock to receive a letter from the FCC threatening thousands of dollars in fines, and I don’t blame anyone on the receiving end for deciding to put away her transmitter and antenna. Yet, being hassled by the FCC on an administrative charge–not criminal–is still a very different thing than dealing with real criminal charges from the police.
!source Radio pirates do not go to jail in 48 states – July 2010
DIYMedia’s Anderson blogged this summer that in Florida, which criminalized unlicensed broadcasting in 2004, some pirates have been arrested but no one has ever been convicted under the state law.
!source Pirate Fines Are Often Tough to Collect – November 2011
The New York state legislature is considering a bill to make unlicensed broadcasting a class D felony, punishable with possible (undefined) imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000. The bill would call foul on any broadcaster without an FCC license and/or accused of causing interference to another radio station.
!source New York Next to “Outlaw” Pirate Radio – February 2011