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Concerts and Music Festivals this Summer: Police Presence & Protecting Yourself

As the weather warms up, the music gets louder. This summer promises to be one of music festivals and concerts throughout the nation and the State of Illinois. For example, Summer Camp music festival is this weekend, as are several concerts throughout central Illinois. This article will discuss recent trends in arrests as well as ways to protect yourself when going to, attending, or leaving a festival or concert.

Recent Trends by Law Enforcement

Lots of concertgoers are wondering what could happen at a music festival or concert, and how intense the police presence will be. Take Summer Camp as an example, years ago, countless people were arrested, hauled into court on charges ranging from minor misdemeanor offenses to major Class X felony ones.

That is until the last couple of years, during which arrests have been down statistically. After complaints and criticism from those arrested, their family members, and defenses attorneys like us, police have made fewer and fewer arrests. Even though departments receive money whenever someone is assessed court "costs" in a criminal case, that money is not worth the poor relations these countless arrests have created. For the meantime, police seem to have laid off of the intense enforcement the imposed just a few years ago.Whether arrests go up again or not is only a matter of time.

It's not as if the use of drugs popular at music events has gone down as of late. For example, surveys of social media have been done by researchers to determine which music events discuss which drugs. It's not hard to do this kind of research, and it's the kind of thing law enforcement can do as well.

Ways to Protect Yourself

Some readers might feel insulted. Obviously, not everyone listening to music is using any drug, legal or illegal. However, it does happen, and there are countless examples of people riding together, holding or watching each other's belongings, and so on. Because of this, there are equally countless examples of people arrested for possessing items that do not belong to them or are not even on their person. In Illinois, possession itself is illegal, but so is constructive possession. This is why everyone in a car gets arrested for dope found in the center console.

The main concern for those attending music events this summer has a lot more these days to deal not with law enforcement at a particular event, but with getting to or coming from that event. Summer Camp, for example, occurs in a small area, surrounded by small counties known for stopping vehicles they suspect have drugs in them. With the numerous routes available for people to take to any locations, there are lots of counties and towns with which a person could come into contact.

The good news is that there are still ways to protect yourself. No one wants law enforcement personnel to profile people, racially or otherwise. Despite the arguments made by law enforcement in support of it, profiling motorists will strike most of us as a fundamentally unfair practice.

Based on our extensive experience defending people who attended music festivals and concerts throughout central Illinois as well as comments made by real event goers themselves, here are ways you can protect yourself, besides the obvious of not transporting or carrying anything illegal:

  • Keep all bags in the trunk;
  • Police will be looking for out-of-state license plates and vehicles that seem heavy;
  • Never use or let someone else use drugs or drink in your vehicle;
  • Watch your speed: speed-traps are a real thing, so be weary of upcoming speed zones, after which speeds become reduced;
  • Watch the rest of your driving: don't be distracted or on your phone, and keep your vehicle entirely within its lane;
  • Stay inside your vehicle, unless asked to exit (if you refuse to exit, even if the request is unlawful, you could face a criminal charge, but we can deal with the unlawful request easier than we can with refusal to comply with an order); and
  • Control yourself: if you're pulled over, cooperate, because the law requires you to identify yourself, but, most importantly, stay calm, because even just appearing "nervous" is often a justification used by police to ask further questions or call for a dog to come out.

Likewise, if you are stopped by police either while driving to or from an event or even stopped by police in person at the event itself, there are certain rights that you have, and you should know them before going to a music festival or concert:

  • You do not have to consent to a search;
  • Not consenting to a search does not give police probable cause to search;
  • You do not have to engage in much conversation;
  • If police search and find something illegal, you do not have to talk to them: you will not talk your way out of being arrested, and police often only speak with motorists on scene, because they're not under arrest yet (so giving Miranda rights is not required)
  • Be unequivocal: "I want a lawyer;" this should end questioning after an arrest is made.

Every year, we represent people who were arrested on their way to, while attending, or returning from a music festival or concert. The fact that arrests may be down does not mean that they will not ramp up again. Many of these arrests are entirely avoidable. To avoid them, people need to exercise caution, and need to know their rights. Johnson Law Group has the expertise and experience to help. We have a track record of success that speaks for itself. Because of the way that we work and are structured, we form strategies and defenses that yield exceptional results for our clients. If you find yourself or a friend in trouble on the way to, while attending, or on the way from a music event, then contact us today. We're available 24/7, and we stand ready to help anyone who is in trouble.

Copyright © 2018 by Brendan Bukalski

The information provided in this column is general in nature, and should not be relied upon as legal advice or interpreted as creating an attorney-client relationship. As a general rule, all specific legal problems should be handled by an individual's attorney. All rights reserved. Any copying, duplication, or commercial use of the information contained in this column is strictly prohibited without prior permission.