Public festivals and law enforcement
How you should handle police interactions at concerts and other events
During late summer and early fall, thousands of people attend festivals throughout Ohio. But because these events can also get a little rowdy, it’s not uncommon to see police roaming among the crowd to make sure people aren’t fighting, drinking underage or doing anything else blatantly illegal. Sure, officers are there with the hopes of simply keep things from getting out of control, but that doesn’t mean arrests aren’t a common occurrence.
For instance, last year, police arrested 77 people during Comfest weekend. And, at the recent Gathering of the Juggalos at Legend Valley in Thornville, Ohio, many area residents were concerned about the festivalgoers’ bad reputation.
So, with events like HighBall Halloween on the horizon, you should know how to interact with a police officer if you’re approached at a concert or festival:
Depending on the nature of the festival and the overall attitude of the police force, officers can be pretty liberal about letting attendees get away with small crimes related to alcohol, marijuana, and fireworks. However, don’t take their lax attitude to mean that you can get away with anything. You should still avoid participating in any illegal activity, especially if you are in view of law enforcement.
Be polite and patient
If you are approached by the police, never be combative, rude or impatient. You’ll only be giving them an excuse to continue detaining you, or to place you under arrest. Sometimes the police will even try to rattle you by speaking aggressively or threatening arrest or jail time. Still, try to remain as calm and cordial as possible.
Only say what’s necessary
Don’t feel the need to get overly conversational with the police. Even before being reading your Miranda rights, anything you say can be used against you in a court of law. Answer with ‘yes’ and ‘no’ if possible, but if a longer explanation is required, don’t offer up any more information than what’s needed.
Don’t interfere with police business
For the most part, police are simply there to keep the peace, but sometimes their presence can create an atmosphere of control that concert–goers may feel compelled to rebel against. Because of this ‘us vs. them’ mentality, and the fact that they are usually heavily outnumbered, police can be on edge when dealing with a situation.
If you see the police questioning, restraining, or arresting someone, be sure to keep your distance. If you approach too quickly or get too close, an officer may think you’re coming to the suspect’s aid, and you may end up detained or arrested yourself. Even if the subject is a good friend or family member, give the police their space so you don’t appear aggressive.
Never give a statement without a criminal defense lawyer
Giving a statement without legal counsel can end with you accidentally incriminating yourself. Before giving any official statement, ask to speak with a lawyer first. The police may try to persuade you from doing this, but be persistent.
If you’ve been arrested and charged with a crime at a public festival or concert, contact one of Yavitch & Palmer’s Columbus criminal defense lawyers. They’ll investigate every detail of your case to see if they can get your charges reduced, or even completely thrown out.