Common myths about being arrested at a music festival:
1) It’s no big deal.
The most common arrests at music festivals are alcohol and/or drug related. And many of those are for underage drinkers. While underage drinking may seem to be the norm on college campuses, it is very much illegal and carries very serious consequences. In California, for a first time violation of Business and Professions Code 25662 (the underage drinking code section), a first time offender is facing 24-36 hours of community service in a drug and alcohol facility or at a local coroner’s office, plus fines of $250 plus court costs and fees. For a violation of minor in possession of a fake ID (Business and Professions Code 25661), the minor also faces community service or fines. For violations of both above listed code sections, the conviction also carries a loss of license for one full year. If the person does not yet have a driver’s license, the DMV will suspend the license for one year upon application for the license.
In addition to the court and DMV penalties, a conviction of a misdemeanor has the very real possibility of affecting your future. All criminal convictions show up on background checks, meaning you will always be haunted by a youthful indiscretion. Colleges and employers will always see the criminal conviction on your record.
2) There’s nothing that can be done.
Local attorneys are often aware of practices and procedures which can save your record. We fight these cases on a regular basis and are able to fight on your behalf to keep criminal convictions from ruining your future.
3) You do not need to hire an attorney.
While hiring an attorney may be an expense you were not planning on when going to the music festival, neither was getting arrested. Local attorneys are well-versed in the practices in the local courts. It is never a good idea to go to court on your own to fight a criminal conviction as you will likely not know all of the possible side effects of a criminal conviction. It is worth the investment in your future to hire an attorney to fight on your behalf. Many of us offer free consultations, which make it worth it to at least talk to a few attorneys ti see what can be done for you.
4) You can wait until closer to the court date to hire an attorney.
Many of the citations one receives for a misdemeanor contain a court arraignment date many months down the road. When a person bails out after a felony arrest, they too are given dates down the road. It is never wise to wait until that date to think about finding an attorney. For one, you may be too overcome with stress to find the right lawyer for you. Lawyers do not come in a “one size fits all” manner. There are characteristics and attributes to different attorneys which make them a good fit for you, or a terrible one. It is important that you feel comfortable with your attorney so you can be open and honest when communicating with them.
Another reason to avoid waiting too long is that the lawyer may be busy. Our calendars fill up with trials, other court hearings, meetings, etc. You want to make sure that your lawyer will be available for you when you need him or her. Hiring them well in advance will make it more likely that they will be available for you on your court date, and not need to send someone in their stead.
One of the most important reasons to not wait is that you do not know what evidence you will need. Was there surveillance? Were there witnesses? Are there pictures or video that need to be taken? Many places delete surveillance after a week and it needs to be acted upon. There are many facets of evidence that need to be considered when deciding strategy for your case. It is best to consult with an attorney immediately after an arrest.