It’s almost time for the 2019 Auburn Rodeo, taking place on April 6 at Sistrunk Farms in Opelika, AL. If your plan is to have a good time and enjoy yourself while you’re at Auburn Rodeo 2019 Edition, listen up.
For the last 18 years, I have represented students that were arrested at the Auburn Rodeo or on their way home from it. In 2016 alone, 47 people were arrested at the rodeo site; however, this number is misleading because it does not reflect the arrests for DUI’s, Public Intoxication or Public Lewdness in Auburn as part of the Rodeo aftermath. Because the Auburn Rodeo is no longer held within Auburn City limits, jurisdiction for any criminal charges is now the District Court of Lee County, Alabama. Luckily, Lee County has started a pre-trial diversion program similar to Auburn’s; however, this program does not preclude you from being arrested, detained and from having a criminal record.
Here are the top 8 things that will get you arrested at Rodeo:
1. Driving Under the Influence
Just because you are at the rodeo and not on a public highway does not mean a police officer cannot arrest you for DUI. Whether it’s on a public highway or in a grassy field, if you are in physical control of the vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you can be arrested for DUI. In fact, you can be asleep behind the wheel of a parked car and still be arrested for DUI. Although the event is not in Auburn, I am positive the Sheriff will be patrolling the roads back to Auburn. In addition, the Opelika and Auburn Police Departments will most likely have a new set up to catch intoxicated drivers entering their jurisdictions. Drinking and driving is not an option, so make sure to get a designated driver.
2. Public Intoxication
Essentially, a charge of PI is when a person appears in public and is under the influence of drugs or alcohol to such an extent that he is a danger to himself or others, is boisterous, or displays offensive conduct that annoys another person in his vicinity. The PI charge usually means that you are either so drunk that they find you lying in the bushes, vomiting or passed out; or if you have done something to “annoy” the police officer. It has been my experience that a PI charge usually involves the student doing something to bring attention to himself. That is, the police officer is going to check on you if they find you sleeping or ill. They’re also going to make contact with you if they find you on top of a porta potty with a handle of Jim Beam, or anything along those lines. Once the police officer makes contact with you, how you respond usually determines whether or not you are going to get charges with PI or be allowed to move along.
3. Public Lewdness
Public Lewdness is the negligent exposing of genitals to the public. It is not indecent exposure in that it does not require the gratification component. Essentially, a public lewdness charge begins with a young male who takes the opportunity to relieve himself in public. Once again, peeing in public not only exposes you to the public, but also draws the attention of the police officer. The charge of public lewdness will stay with you for the rest of your life. Quite often the charge is changed to criminal littering; however, if the police officer or sheriff does charge you with public lewdness, it is a charge that needs to be handled seriously. The best way to avoid this charge is to not expose yourself in public. Public lewdness charges also involve mooning, streaking and other activities where the person decides to get naked in public. The advice here is “don’t get naked in public” and avoid relieving yourself in the sight of others.
4. Minor in Possession of Alcohol
The legal drinking age in Alabama is 21. Possession of alcohol by a minor is a criminal offense in Alabama. It subjects the person not only to the criminal charge, but also the loss or suspension of their driver’s license. Don’t believe what people tell you about officers not charging you with a minor in possession of alcohol. If the police officer does see you with alcohol, he or she has every right to charge you with possession of consumption of alcohol by a minor. And they will. Over the last several years, the ABC Board was present at the Rodeo. Their main purpose was to arrest minors for the possession and/or consumption of alcohol, along with other alcohol related offenses. It was their Super Bowl for minor in possession of alcohol cases.
5. Fake ID’s
Leave your fake ID at home. If you produce a fake ID at the rodeo to an officer, you are committing a criminal offense. In fact, the mere possession of some of these ID’s is a criminal offense. Recently, I’ve represented several students charged with possession of a fraudulent or forged document. This is a serious offense because it is a crime of moral turpitude. We have been forced to work diligently to try and get them out from under those charges. Presenting a fake ID to an officer is a more serious offense in that not only are you in possession of a forged document, but you also are now presenting it in an attempt to deceive or obstruct police activities. Once you do this, you will find yourself quickly in the back of a patrol car. Don’t take your fake ID to the Auburn Rodeo.
6. Possession of Marijuana
A police officer picks up the scent of marijuana like a bloodhound on the hunt. Each officer will follow that smell until they find the source. There is no masking it. The police will not overlook the smell, possession, or use of marijuana at this event. Any person found with marijuana or drug paraphernalia at the rodeo will be arrested. It’s as simple as that.
7. Disorderly Conduct
Disorderly conduct involves either fighting, obstructing vehicular or pedestrian traffic, making unreasonable noises or disturbing a lawful assembly of persons. It also involves being in public and refusing a lawful order by the police to disburse. Much like PI, disorderly conduct charges do not simply arise from being in public. Normally, you must do something to bring attention to yourself, such as fighting, using obscene gestures, or failing to comply with the lawful order of the police. Quite often, PI and disorderly conduct go together. Police officers will first make contact with somebody and ask them to move along. The response should be “yes sir/ma’am,” and do whatever you can to get out of the line of sight of that officer. However, it has been my experience that when alcohol is involved, students seem to take this opportunity to talk to the police officer and explain why they can’t move along. For example, their friend is here, their ride is here, their purse is here, they’ve left their cell phone, or they just don’t want to. At this point, the officer is becoming “annoyed,” and you may have violated a lawful demand to disburse. Normally, these arrests start near the end of the rodeo rather than the beginning. That is, the officer has probably had enough of the students by the end of the rodeo. Again, the moral of the story is not to attract attention to yourself and to listen to the officer when he tells you to move along.
8. Resisting Arrest
You have now found yourself under arrest. How you react to the arrest by the police officer will determine the ultimate outcome of your case. It’s much more difficult to represent a student who has threatened a police officer, threatened his job, told him he was going to have the mayor fire him or attempt to kick out the rear window of the patrol car. Not only is resisting arrest another offense, it normally results in some type of jail sentence, which might otherwise have been avoided. If you are attempting to apply for youthful offender or pre-trial diversion program and the police officer objects due to your conduct during the arrest, the Court may not grant you admission into the pre-trial diversion program and/or youthful offender status. Therefore, if the officer tells you that you are under arrest, do not jerk away, run, cry, or threaten the police officer. Also, remember that anything you say while sitting in the back of the patrol car is recorded. Once again, it is very difficult to plead a student’s case before the judge when he is watching a video of said student in the back of the patrol car threatening the police officer, cursing, and otherwise acting inappropriately. Once it is determined that you are being arrested, the best thing for you to do is to comply with the police officer’s terms, remain quiet, and call AAA Bonding. (Jimmy, at AAA Bonding, is very responsive. Mention my name, Jeff Tickal.)
The above list is not excluding and is not meant to cover all of the offenses you can be charged with while at the Auburn Rodeo 2019. However, keeping these things in mind may help prevent you from getting arrested and allow you to enjoy yourself on April 6th. The items above are always applicable, so keep them in mind when you go downtown or head out for spring break as well.
If you have any questions regarding Auburn Rodeo 2019 Edition, please contact my cell (334)444-4033. We will be available the Saturday and Sunday of the rodeo if you wish to call us or need assistance. If you are arrested, the best thing to do is remain calm, bond out and make an appointment with me for the following week. I wish you all a safe and fun rodeo.
Jeffery G. Tickal, Esq.
Gullage & Tickal, LLP