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How to Get Arrested at a Concert or Music Festival in CA


From concerts at small venues or sports arenas to music festivals like Coachella, millions of people enjoy seeing their favorite artists live in California. Unfortunately, some people end up having too much fun by parting too hard and then breaking the law. 

The following are the most common types of crimes at concerts and music festivals in California: 

  • Public intoxication – If you are willfully under the influence of alcohol or drugs in a public place and unable to exercise care for your own safety or the safety of others, or interfere with, obstruct, or prevent the free use of a public area (e.g., sidewalk, street, etc.), you could be charged with being drunk in public. This offense is a misdemeanor, which carries a maximum jail term of six months and/or a fine of up to $1,000. 

  • Drug possession – Unlawful possession of a controlled substance for personal use—whether it is an illegal drug or prescribed medication without a valid prescription—is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by a jail sentence of up to one year and/or a maximum fine of $1,000. However, if you are found in possession of a significant amount of drugs, cash, a scale, or small baggies, you could be charged with possession for sale, which is a felony that carries a maximum jail term of four years and/or a fine of up to $20,000, or even face harsher penalties, depending on the type of substance. 

  • DUI – Many people believe they are okay to drive once the show ends but, in reality, they may still be over the legal limit. A first DUI conviction in California can lead to a maximum jail term of six months, fines of up to $2,000, driver’s license suspension for six months, and other harsh penalties. Rather than risk getting a DUI after a concert or festival, request a ride from Uber/Lyft or have a sober friend nearby pick you up. 

  • Disturbing the peace – Depending on the music, emotions and energy may run high enough to the point where fights may break out. Unlawfully fighting in public is considered “disturbing the peace.” You can be charged with this offense for willfully and unlawfully fighting another person or challenging someone to fight and the fight or challenge occurred in a public area. Disturbing the peace is considered a wobblette, which means it can be charged as either an infraction or misdemeanor. The maximum penalties include a jail term of up to 90 days and/or a fine of no more than $400. 

  • Assault/battery – While assault and battery are used interchangeable in many states, they are separate crimes in California. Assault means unlawfully attempting to inflict violent injury on someone else, while battery means actually using force or violence against another person. Assault is a misdemeanor, punishable by a jail sentence of up to six months and/or a maximum fine of $1,000. While battery can be charged as a misdemeanor that carries a maximum jail term of six months and/or a fine of up to $2,000, if a victim suffers a serious injury, then the offense is a felony that can result in imprisonment for up to four years. 

If you have been arrested at a concert or music festival in Santa Barbara, call Appel & Morse at (805) 467-6060 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free initial consultation. Let two former prosecutors defend you against serious criminal penalties! 

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