Each year, music fans look forward to FloydFest, a multi-day music and arts festival in the Blue Ridge Mountains. In 2014, there are over 50 performers across 80 acres, with artisanal food, healing arts, and children’s performances scattered throughout. It’s gotten so popular that it has bloomed to a five-day festival for the first time, and FloydFest sells out each year with about 15,000 people each day – nearly equivalent the population of Floyd County itself.
Historically, law enforcement has had a strong presence at the festival. The official rules for the festival are:
- No weapons
- No dogs on FloydFest site, campground, or parking lots
- No open-air fires
- No outside alcohol
- No drugs or illegal substances
- No admittance without a wristband
If you are headed to FloydFest this weekend, we recommend that you research ahead of time and plan to leave any items that would come into question at home. However, if you are enjoying the festival and happen to encounter law enforcement during the festivities, here are some things you should know:
- In Virginia, it is not legal to possess marijuana. If you are traveling to FloydFest from out of the area, know that it marijuana has not been legalized in the Commonwealth and you can be charged with possession of marijuana. If this is your first possession charge in Virginia, it is considered a misdemeanor that carries up to 30 days in jail and/or $500 in fines if convicted.
- Be polite, yet firm, in speaking with law enforcement. If the National Park Service or other law enforcement approach you or ask you questions, stay calm. It is recommend that you have your ID handy to present if it is requested, though Virginia does not have a “stop and identify” statute on its books.
- Do not consent to any search. If law enforcement wants to search your bag or your person, respectfully and politely tell them, “I do not consent to this search.” They may ask you what you have to hide, but simply repeat the statement. You can ask if you are free to go. If not, you should tell law enforcement that you don’t wish to speak further until an attorney is present.
- You can ask, “Am I under arrest?” Law enforcement is required to read you the Miranda warning if you are being arrested and they want to use a statement you made after the arrest in court against you. Know that you have the right against self-incrimination under the U.S. Constitution. Law enforcement can and will lie to you in order to get you to admit to something, so invoking your right to remain silent can be important.
- Document your encounter. If you are questioned or arrested, you may want to ask a friend to record the encounter. This has come into question more recently, and some filmed police encounters have been considered an obstruction of justice. However, FloydFest occurs on public property and you are entitled to record the item. You may wish to state “I am not interfering in anyway, I am just documenting this arrest. This is a public place and I’m entitled to record this.”
If you have any questions about your rights as a festival attendee or you were charged over the weekend, please give us a call for a free legal consultation. Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico has been serving southwest Virginia for decades, and our Roanoke criminal lawyers work to protect our clients’ rights and reduce the penalties they face.