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Top Three Ways to Avoid Getting Arrested at Jazz Fest

Posted on by Townsend Myers

UPDATE: This was originally posted two years ago, and again last year around Jazz Fest time. I feel like it is worth trotting out again with some updated information, most importantly to note that you will now likely receive a summons for Municipal Court for most minor offenses in lieu of arrest. You will probably still want to know the information, and get a lawyer involved to help however, so here goes…

There is no better way to ruin the best time of year in New Orleans than to spend a beautiful late-April or early-May afternoon and evening in jail instead of at the Fairgrounds. So here are my top 3 ways to avoid getting arrested at (and around) Jazz Fest, and some tips on what to do if it happens:

  1. Watch what you put in your backpack. Remember, though it is only a cursory search, your bag will be searched before you enter the Fairgrounds. It seems to get more and more thorough each year, and plenty of people have had their day end real early when they tried to bring in something they should have thought twice about bringing (read: bong, for instance). More people get arrested trying to get in to the fest with contraband than get arrested once inside. Pack wisely.
  2. Don’t be an ass. This is a two-way street, actually. Don’t be an ass (and I’m sure you wouldn’t) but just as importantly, don’t tell someone else they are being an ass. There are lots of written (and unwritten) rules about things not to do at the fest (like roping off space, blocking off too large of an area with an armada of chairs, popping open a giant beach umbrella and blocking everybody behind you, etc.). Most folk respect theses rules. But inevitably it happens right by you;  some giant d-bag decides to starts breaking all know codes of decency and reasonableness, and you feel compelled to call him on it, aggressively. Don’t. This can lead to fights (even if YOU are a lover), and fighting will get you arrested at Jazz Fest faster than anything.
  3. Finally, remember that after you leave the fest, you are in the City of New Orleans, where all usual laws apply – even to you, you enlightened guardian of the groove, grand master of the funky nation… weed was not legalized because Widespread Panic just blew your mind. Have fun, but stay in touch with reality.

So what do you do if this horrible fate befalls you? Stay calm. Freaking out will only make it worse. For general tips on how to handle being arrested,  see this page of my website. But read on for more Jazz Fest specifics:

  1. You’ll need to get someone involved ASAP to help start the process of getting you out of jail. Make sure a friend or family member knows that you are being arrested if at all possible. The quicker they start working to help you get out, the faster you will be out.
  2. Assuming you are arrested in Orleans Parish, your friends can get your booking information online at the OPCSO Website. This will show them what you hve been arrested for, what your bond is, and whether or not a release has been posted. If you don’t have this direct link, you can access this and other helpful links on this page of my website.
  3. Once your friends know where you are, and what you are charged with, the need to get you out of jail on some kind of bond. You have three options for making bond:
  • Post the full amount of bond with the court;
  • Pay a non-refundable bail bond premium to a licensed Bail Bondsman;
  • Contact an attorney to help secure a release on personal recognizance

You should be aware that if you are from out of town, chances are that you will not be able to use a bail bondsman to make bond, as most bail bondsmen consider out of town defendants to be too much of a risk of non-appearance in court. In such cases, be prepared to post the full amount of the bond, or contact an attorney. For more help with getting someone out of jail, see this page of my website, and for out of town defendants, check out this page.



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