Coachella Fest and StageCoach Music Festival are two highlight events in the Coachella Valley. Both events are weekend long music festivals which present many different musical artists to thousands of concertgoers. Coachella Fest was expanded this year into two weekend events with identical lineups. The two events brings in thousands of music loving people of all ages.
The event also brings in hundreds of arrests. This year, between the two events (spanning three weekends) Riverside County Sheriffs, in a joint taskforce with other governmental agencies such as the DEA, arrested over six hundred (600) people. The arrests were for blatant penal code and vehicle code violation, but were also the result of undercover operations.
One of the most common “crimes” which occurred this year was that of underage people using fake ids. To get a wristband, a person had to show their identification card. Once they had a wristband, he or she still had to show an id upon entering the beer garden. Undercover cops were stationed at both the wristband station and the beer garden entrance. If there was a questionable ID card, a venue employee would hand the ID to the undercover cop who would question the person. If the cops found the ID to be fake, they would then ask the person if they had any contraband on them. Under the guise of “checking for contraband relating to underage drinking” the cop would violate the person’s 4th Amendment rights by searching their person or belongings.
Many of the people were not actually arrested, but rather cited and released. This means they were not taken into physical custody by the police, but given a ticket and told to go to court in Indio on a certain date. To keep up with the number of arrests, the filing deputy district attorneys were working double time to get all the cases filed. Some have still not been filed, but they have a year to do so. Riverside county has implemented a new Diversion program for these fake ID arrests. The person can plead guilty to a charge, complete one day of classes and/or community service, and upon successful completion the case will be dismissed. The good thing about this program is that it will not hurt a person’s future. Many of the people with these charges have no criminal record and are scared about the idea of having criminal charges on their record. The diversion program will not hurt your future career or education opportunities.
The other two options are pleading to the straight misdemeanor (not at all a good idea) and pleading to an infraction. An infraction is no more than a speeding ticket which will also not hurt your future endeavors. The problem is that there is a possible loss of license at the discretion of the court.
The charges most common to these cases are Penal Code 148.9, which is false identification to a peace officer. This is basically lying to the cops about who you are. Even if you didn’t lie to the actual cop, but gave the fake ID to the venue employee, and told the cop your true identity because you were freaked out when the cop approached you, they are still charging you with this penal code section. This charge would be easier to win in trial, depending on the specifics of your case.
The charge which the DA wants people to plead guilty to is Business and Professions Code 25661 which is false identification on a person under 21. This charge is a bit trickier to win, but is not unwinnable. Depending on the facts of your case, a good attorney can beat this charge at trial. It is important to speak with an attorney regarding the specifics of your case.
These charges aren’t the end of the world, but they should still be taken very seriously. If not handled correctly, you could end up with misdemeanors on your record. You don’t want that. Don’t let youthful indiscretion ruin your future employment and educational prospects.
Contact the Law Office of Stephanie M. Arrache, a criminal defense firm, if you have any questions about being a minor with a fake ID at Coachella Fest or Stagecoach.
Law Office of Stephanie M. Arrache
Palm Desert, CA 92211