Five Steps to Avoid Drug Charges at a Music Concert

Concerts can be a lot of fun. A chance to see a band like Phish or Widespread Panic or any number of other bands that come through Raleigh, North Carolina. Good music, good friends.

But concerts can also lead to legal problems. Police – particularly drug and narcotics police and alcohol enforcement agents – know that concerts can involve drug use – marijuana, MDMA or ecstacy, LSD, and even harder drugs such as heroin or cocaine.

And since concerts happen in the same locations in Raleigh month after month, and year after year, police know which hotels concert-goers sometimes use when traveling to see a band. They also know the tricks of the trade. Sometimes police are undercover, posing as drug buyers or as concert goers. Other times they are in uniform, checking out the parking lots of hotels and motels.

A criminal charge or drug charge can ruin not only the concert, but can ruin your future, especially if the drug charge is not handled professionally by a competent Raleigh criminal lawyer. Because North Carolina has harsh drug laws, relatively small amounts of drugs that in other states may not be handled harshly, can result in drug trafficking charges. And drug trafficking in North Carolina carries with it mandatory minimums requiring prison time, if a successful resolution cannot be worked out.

Here are some tips for dealing with police who may be trying to search or investigate or arrest you for a drug or alcohol crime.

First, obviously, you shouldn’t have any illegal contraband. However, if you have or may have illegal contraband – drugs, drug paraphernalia, etc. – on your person, in your car, in your hotel room, or in your luggage or backpack, you should never consent to a search.

If a police officer asks you for permission to search anything – including your car, your room, your person, your coat, your bags, etc. – you should politely and respectfully tell the police officer that you do not consent to a search.

If the officer says he’s going to search anyway, then don’t resist. In fact, never resist an officer, since that will only lead to new, additional charges. However, you should repeat to the officer – hopefully with witnesses around – that you do not agree to the search.

Second, if the police decide to arrest you, do not resist. Comply with all instructions.

Third, you should not say anything at all until you have a lawyer at any point. Police are under no obligation to read you your rights unless they want to ask you questions while you are in custody. It’s up to you to know your rights, and exercise them. Don’t be rude about it. Simply politely say that you would like an attorney. And if the police continue to ask questions, repeat: “I’d like a lawyer please.” Even if you say you want a lawyer, but later say something to police outside of the presence of a lawyer, whatever you say could possibly be used against you. So keep your mouth shut.

Fourth, do not waive your Miranda Rights. If police do ask you to waive your rights because “this will really help your case” or “you want to leave here tonight, don’t you,” politely refuse to waive your rights. There will be plenty of time to talk to police or prosecutors in the future if you want to. At this moment, you want to protect yourself from additional criminal charges. Even if your friends are singing like canaries, you should keep your mouth shut.

Fifth, hire a lawyer. If you’re facing a serious drug charge and your bond has been set high by a magistrate, it may be possible for you to hire a lawyer to lower your bond and to represent you so that your parents do not spend a huge amount of money on a bond that would’ve been eventually lowered.

You may be able to save thousands of dollars if you hire a lawyer quickly to help you lower the bond, and to also represent you on the matter.

If you’ve been released on a low bond, then you should contact a lawyer immediately. If you live out of state and have come to Raleigh for the concert, you can hire a lawyer who may be able to handle most (or sometimes all) of the case without you having to return to North Carolina

Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.