Doing Drugs at Governors Ball? Here's How to Avoid Trouble With the Police

Categories: Governors Ball

Timothy Norris
This dude's actually drug free. But he still knows his rights
Hate to say it, but some of you at Governors Ball (which starts today!) are going to be approached by police officers assuming you have drugs. Well, you just may, but guess what? You still have rights, man.

Cameron Bowman is here to help! As a music festival lover and attorney at San Jose firm Valencia, Ippolito & Bowman, he's a legal expert on this kind of thing. Bowman, aka The Festival Lawyer, talks below about the best ways to protect yourself if you're approached by the fuzz at the fest.

Credit: Nanette Gonzales
"No officer, you cannot search my headdress."
Memorize a few key phrases
"If a cop comes up and asks to see your ID," Bowman says, "the first question out of your mouth should be, 'Am I being detained?' Then, 'Why? What am being stopped for? Am I free to go, or am I under arrest?'"

Memorize this. Repeat it out loud: "Am I being detained? Why? Am I free to go, or am I under arrest?"

With these questions, you establish whether you are being arrested and transform any subsequent detention into a scenario in which the officer has to justify stopping you. Somebody looking at that explanation later will then make a decision about whether the officer had a good reason to stop you, which might make your case easier to defend.

Do not give the authorities consent to search you
"I strongly advise people to do this," says Bowman. "Most [scenarios] happen where the person is approached [by a cop], and it's a sort of a nebulous situation and a casual conversation where everything then rolls downhill and the next thing you know that person is being searched and drugs are being discovered. That's what you don't want to do."

What you do want to do is respectfully tell the police officer, "I'm not giving you consent to search my property." If they ask what you have to hide, again say, "Officer, I'm sorry I'm not giving you consent to search my backpack."

At this point, they can still search you if they have probable cause, but what you've done with your statements is make them declare their reason for doing so.

"Police are always going to try to reframe any sort of encounter with you as a consensual encounter," Bowman says. "It's so common in police reports. If you are from the start unambiguously saying, 'Officer am I under arrest? Am I free to leave? I don't want to make a statement ot you at this time, I'd like a lawyer, and no I'm not giving you consent to search my property or belongings,' they may search your stuff always, but they have to justify to a court later why they did."

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