Minor in Possession

Two of the most common crimes for which people get arrested at Coachella Music and Arts Festival and StageCoach Music Festival are for being a minor in possession of alcohol and/or a Fake ID.

Arrested at Coachella or Stagecoach: Minor in Possession of a Fake ID

One of the most common arrests at Coachella or Stagecoach is Minor in Possession of a Fake ID (Business and Professions Code [BP] 25661) To get a wristband, a person has to show their identification card.  Once they have a wristband, he or she still has to show an id upon entering the beer garden.  Empire Polo Grounds employees are trained vigorously by Indio Police, DEA agents and others on how to spot a fake ID or an ID that does not belong to that person.  Further, undercover cops are 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.

Arrested at Coachella or Stagecoach: Minor in Possession of Alcohol

The other most common charge for which people get arrested at Coachella or Stagecoach is being a minor in possession of alcohol (Business and Professions Code [BP] 25662).  Sometimes minors are successful in obtaining wristbands.  Or they hang out in the camping areas or parking lots, where wristbands aren’t needed.  Then they feel like they can get away with drinking.  Be certain that undercover and uniformed cops are everywhere looking for law violators.  If you look under 21, they will approach you and ask for ID.  Every year I have several clients who were caught with a beer in the parking lot or camping area.  Sometimes the cop sees them crack open the beer and they get arrested at Coachella or Stagecoach before even taking a sip.  The law is very clear: don’t be a minor in possession of alcohol.

Cited But Not Arrested at Coachella or Stagecoach For Being A Minor In Possession

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 court date is normally several months out in August.  Because most of the people arrested for Minor in Possession of a Fake ID or Alcohol at Coachella or Stagecoach are students, they find it inconvenient or impossible to make it to a court date in August or any subsequent court dates thereafter.  You cannot advance a court appearance date for a Minor in Possession case stemming from Coachella or Stagecoach as the cases are generally not filed until days before the date on your citation.  The good news is that you can hire an attorney who can appear without your needing to be there.  Every year, Indio criminal defense attorney Stephanie M. Arrache appears on behalf of her clients without the necessity of them having to be dragged publicly into court.

Handling a Criminal Case After Being Arrested at Coachella or Stagecoach For Being a Minor in Possession

Minor in Possession of Fake ID and Minor in Possession of Alcohol charges are misdemeanors.  They carry with them possible probation, loss of license (even if no car was involved or even near the minor), fines and possible community service.  Beyond that, a person will have to admit a conviction when applying to schools or jobs.  This will haunt a person for their whole life if not handled correctly.

Riverside county has implemented a Diversion program for these fake ID arrests which an experienced, local criminal defense attorney can get the client into.  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 and/or DMV.

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 in possession at Coachella Music and Arts Festival or Stagecoach.