As many of you already know, the 19th year of Gathering of the Vibes is quickly approaching. This year’s music festival is taking place July 31st-August 3rd. It will happen at Seaside Park in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The lineup features a whopping 51 artists. This including John Fogerty, Dispatch, the Disco Biscuits, Widespread Panic, Ziggy Marley and more. If you want to attend the festival, all of us at Ruane Attorneys hope you that have a great time! It really seems like this year is going to be epic. At the same time, we also want to remind you of the “darker side” of the Vibes.
Last year’s Vibes resulted in 23 people arrested on drug charges alone. Police also seized about $24,000 in cash, four vehicles, and numerous food items containing drugs. Also, they seized drugs such as marijuana, hashish, ecstasy, Ketamine, Xanax, narcotic painkillers, cocaine, LSD, heroin and hallucinogenic mushrooms. The year before that saw a total of 30 arrests from a crowd of over 20,000 people.
As always, the Bridgeport Police Department and security crews will be present and on alert throughout the festival. So, it is extremely important to know what your rights are. Everyone seems to know from TV shows that they can “take the fifth” and refuse to answer police questioning, but not as many people know that they can “take the fourth” and exercise their fourth amendment protections against unreasonable searches.
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution states that, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized”. Article I, §7 of the Connecticut Constitution contains similar language, also protecting residents from unreasonable searches and seizures. Thus, under the Fourth Amendment and the Connecticut Constitution’s equivalent, in the absence of an exception, a warrantless search is per se unreasonable. With the ever-heavy police presence at the Vibes this year, you might find yourself in a sticky situation. Read the rest of this article for valuable information on what to do if you find yourself in any of the below predicaments.
What If I Get Stopped?
If you are at the Vibes and a police officer stops you, it is important to understand what type of stop it is. A police stop can be a consensual encounter, a detention or an arrest. If a police officer’s stop of you constitutes a consensual encounter, you are free to leave at any time. So, if a police officer’s stop of you constitutes a detention, you get temporarily stopped because the police have a reasonable suspicion that you have committed an illegal act. If a police officer’s stop of you constitutes an arrest, you are being permanently stopped and are off to jail. To arrest you, the police officer must have probable cause that you engaged in criminal activity.
If an officer stops you at the Vibes, you should immediately ask them if you’re free to leave. If they tell you that you are free to go, you should leave. Also, if you don’t, your inaction constitutes consent. If an officer detains you, be sure to ask why they are doing so. Officers don’t have to read your Miranda rights during a detention, but they still relate. Don’t allow pressure to answering any probing questions that you may regret later on. Likewise, if you are placed under arrest, ask the police officer why.
What If an Officer Asks For Identification?
Stop-and-identify laws give officers the right to arrest any criminal suspects who refuse to provide identification. There are 24 states in the US that have stop-and-identify laws, but Connecticut is not one of them. Although Connecticut isn’t a stop-and-identity state, if an officer is detaining you, it is probably wise to provide identification upon request. In our next post we will talk about what to do if you, your friends, your backpack, your tent or your phone become the subject of a search.