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Jeff Tickal

auburn rodeo 2019

Auburn Rodeo 2019 Edition

By | Alcohol Offenses, Auburn Local, University Discipline | No Comments

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

(334)444-4033 Cell

(334)737-3733 Office

fraternity issues at the alpha psi rodeo

Fraternity Issues at the Alpha Psi Rodeo

By | Alcohol Offenses, Auburn Local, University Discipline | No Comments

The Alpha Psi Rodeo is April 21, 2018 at Sistrunk Farms in Opelika, Alabama (technically, this is Macon County).  The coordinators for the Alpha Psi Rodeo have changed the theme to “Make the Rodeo Great Again”.  By doing that, they are bringing back the BYOB and tailgating which were removed from the Rodeo last year.  In addition, the coordinators for the Rodeo are setting up trailers for rental by different groups to watch the concert and rodeo events.  These trailers will be placed around the rodeo ring and in view of the concert stadium.

Because of the changes this year, a number of issues affect fraternities.  The Alpha Psi Fraternity encourages all the fraternities to attend their function and in the past fraternities have made it a point to congregate together at the rodeo.  That said, this creates an issue for the fraternities under the Interfraternity Council Risk Management Policy.  Specifically, if a fraternity rents a trailer this year for use at the rodeo, essentially this becomes a fraternity event sponsored or endorsed by the Chapter.  In addition, if you hang flags from the trailer designating it to be a fraternity trailer and making it such that an observer would associate it with the fraternity, it would fall under a fraternity event and subject under the Interfraternity Council Risk Management Policies.

Policy 2 provides:

“No alcoholic beverages may be purchased through or with chapter funds nor may the purchase of same for members or guests be undertaken or coordinated by any member in the name of or on behalf of the chapter.  The purchase or use of a bulk quantity or common source(s) of alcoholic beverage, for example, kegs or cases, is prohibited.”

The Alpha Psi Rodeo is a BYOB event.  That means the “O” in BYOB is “own”.  If everyone brings their own alcohol, it will not be a violation of Article 2 of the Interfraternity Council Risk Management Policy.  However, if groups provide kegs, cases, handles of alcohol or alcohol from a cooler or other source, the fraternity may violate the “Common Source Rule.”

It is important that fraternities understand the common source rule and its applicability towards the trailers rented for the Alpha Psi Rodeo.  There should be no coolers or common source alcohol available on the trailers or directly adjacent to the trailers for fraternity members.  Also, keep in mind that it is a violation of the Risk Management Policy to provide alcohol to minors.  By not having a common source of alcohol available to others, a fraternity can avoid both the common source and the distribution of alcohol to a minor which is both a fraternity council and criminal offense.

Jeffrey G. Tickal | GULLAGE & TICKAL, LLP | Attorneys at Law

511 Geneva Street, Opelika, AL 36801

(o) 334-737-3733

photo credit: Thomas Hawk Ride ’em Cowboy via photopin (license)

alpha psi rodeo 2018 auburn student defense

UPDATED How Not to Get Arrested at Alpha Psi Rodeo 2018

By | Alcohol Offenses, Auburn Local | No Comments

It’s almost time for the 2018 Alpha Psi Rodeo, taking place on April 21st at Sistrunk Farms in Opelika, AL. If your plan is to have a good time and enjoy yourself while you’re there, listen up.

For the last 17 years, I have represented students who were either arrested at the Alpha Psi 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 all the arrests for DUI’s, Public Intoxication, or Public Lewdness in Auburn as part of the Rodeo aftermath. Because the Alpha Psi 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: “Hey man, am I driving ok?” “I think we’re parked dude.” 

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 net set up to catch intoxicated drivers entering their jurisdictions. Drinking and driving is not an option, so make sure to get a designated driver. 

  1. Public Intoxication: “I didn’t want to be drunk in public, they threw me into public.”

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 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 Bean, 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 charged with PI or be allowed to move along. 

  1. Public Lewdness: “Don’t get naked in public.”

Public Lewdness is the negligent exposing of the 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 site of others.

  1. Minor in Possession of Alcohol: “That’s not my beer.”

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 or consumption of alcohol by a minor. And they will. Over this last several years, the ABC Board was present at the Alpha Psi 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.

  1. Fake ID’s: “Yes, I am Nick Pappagiorgio from Yuma.”

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 Alpha Psi Rodeo.

  1. Possession of Marijuana: “Do you smell that?”

A police officer picks up the scent of marijuana like a blood hound 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.

  1. Disorderly Conduct: “I’m not going down without a fight.” 

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.

  1. Resisting Arrest: “Don’t taze me, bro!”

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, cussing, 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 exclusive and is not meant to cover all of the offenses you can be charged with while at the Alpha Psi Rodeo.  However, keeping these things in mind may help prevent you from getting arrested and allow you to enjoy yourself on April 21st. 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 any of the above, please contact my office at 334-737-3733.  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.

Jeffrey G. Tickal, Esq.

Gullage & Tickal, LLP

(334) 737-3733

disorderly conduct and resisting arrest in auburn, alabama

Disorderly Conduct and Resisting Arrest in Auburn, Alabama

By | Alcohol Offenses, Auburn Local | No Comments

If you’re an Auburn University Student, you probably recognize that these offenses are not uncommon for Auburn’s bar scene, and if you’ve ever been to Skybar, 17-16, Quixotes, or any of the other downtown venues, you’re sure to have seen at least one bar fight which ended with someone getting thrown out by a bouncer. Even once you’ve left the bar, it’s not unusual to witness people stumbling drunkenly down the sidewalk, yelling to their friends across the street, puking in a garbage can, or simply slouching on a bench in a drunken stupor.

Disorderly conduct and resisting arrest in Auburn, Alabama are two charges which, when considering the typical circumstances of their incident, tend to go hand in hand. Usually fueled by alcohol or drug consumption, what starts as innocent roughhousing can easily escalate into what could be  criminal behavior.

Disorderly Conduct: Alabama Code § 13A-11-7

In §13A-11-7 of the Alabama Criminal Code, disorderly conduct is defined through a list of six specific offenses:

“(a) A person commits the crime of disorderly conduct if, with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof, he or she does any of the following:

(1) Engages in fighting or in violent tumultuous or threatening behavior.

(2) Makes unreasonable noise.

(3) In a public place uses abusive or obscene language or makes an obscene gesture.

(4) Without lawful authority, disturbs any lawful assembly or meeting of persons.

(5) Obstructs vehicular or pedestrian traffic, or a transportation facility.

(6) Congregates with other person in a public place and refuses to comply with a lawful order of law enforcement to disperse.”

Resisting Arrest: Alabama Code §13A-10-41

Since individuals who engage in disorderly conduct are often under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it’s not uncommon for their judgement to be clouded enough that they choose to resist their arrest. As described in Alabama Code §13A-10-14, a person commits the crime of resisting arrest if, “he intentionally prevents or attempts to prevent a police officer from affecting a lawful arrest of himself or another person.” Behaviors that will land you with this charge include: pulling away, running away, yelling at police officers, threatening to get them fired, or a variety of other actions which are simply obstructive and uncalled for, and all of which will have a negative impact on your defense in court.

Penalties

In Alabama, disorderly conduct is considered a class C misdemeanor, a charge which can land you with fines of up to $500, a jail sentence up to three months, or both. Worse than that, this isn’t even including the additional misdemeanor from resisting arrest or the many other charges which often accompany disorderly conduct such as: harassment (§13A-11-8), public intoxication (§13A-11-10), or, if you’re also under 21, minor in possession of alcohol (§28-1-5). Given the nature of these crimes and their typical relationship with alcohol, it can be shockingly easy to land yourself with a number of criminal charges, resulting in thousands of dollars in legal fees, fines, and even possible jail time. In the event that you’ve been stopped by a police officer for disorderly conduct, the best thing you can do is to cooperate fully and behave like a respectable young adult.

How to Avoid Multiple Charges

As it was said before, disorderly conduct charges are often accompanied by a variety of other charges determined during contact with the arresting officer. As obvious as it may seem, the most effective way to avoid this is to simply behave yourself once in police custody. You may be aware of the stereotype of entitled college students who, from the point of police contact, begin forcefully arguing their innocence, yelling and screaming, thrashing around the back of the squad car, insulting police officers personally, or a variety of other disruptive behaviors. This is the quickest way to make your attorney’s job very difficult. If you and your attorney have any hope of convincing a judge to drop your charges or lessen your sentence, you don’t want on record that you called your arresting officer a “pig,” that you spit in his face, or that you threatened to have Dad get him fired; this simply won’t fly. Your attorney’s goal is to convince the court that you’ve made mistakes and that you’re a good kid who deserves a second chance. This will be much more convincing if you just keep your cool. Besides, the obvious solution of avoiding disorderly conduct entirely, improving your chances of a light sentence or even a dismissal of charges is as simple as acting like a decent human being.

Disorderly conduct and resisting arrest are charges which will not look good on a permanent record. If you’ve been charged with any of the crimes listed above, it’s incredibly important that you find an attorney with extensive experience in collegiate criminal defense. Attorney Jeff Tickal of Gullage & Tickal has had years of experience defending Auburn students, and, as a former instructor in the school of building science, has a sincere connection with and understanding of Auburn students which carries over effectively into each case he defends.

Drug Paraphernalia Charges in Auburn

Drug Paraphernalia Charges in Auburn

By | Auburn Local, Drug Offenses | No Comments

Previously, we discussed the laws and charges regarding the possession of marijuana in Auburn. And while it may seem obvious, it is important to note that the mere possession of marijuana related paraphernalia is also a crime. In this article, we’ll review drug paraphernalia charges in Auburn, including the penalites if you are caught.

How Do Most Auburn University Students get Caught?

Beware of the grinder! Lately, most of the students that get charged with possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia are charged with possession of a grinder. The grinder is a device used to grind marijuana into a smokable form. For some reason, students travel around Auburn University with the grinder in their car. Most often, they do not clean all of the marijuana residue out so when a police officer finds the paraphernalia he also finds a small amount of marijuana “shake” inside the grinder. The student is then charged with both possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana second. When an officer approaches the car, they not only are trying to see if the driver has a driver’s license and registration, but they are also checking for the presence of alcohol and the smell of marijuana.  Officers are very perceptive of the smell of “green“ marijuana and its odor is likely to initiate the search of the vehicle. The laws regarding the possession of drug paraphernalia in Alabama are outlined below. 

Drug Paraphernalia: Alabama Code § 13A-12-260

Alabama Code § 13A-12-260 defines drug paraphernalia as:

  “all equipment, products, and materials of any kind which are used, intended for use, or designed for use, in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing… or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance in violation of controlled substance laws of this state.”

This definition covers a variety of materials, including: any variety of pipe (water pipes, vape pens, bongs, etc.), any item used to store or measure illicit materials (grinders, scales, testing equipment), and many more less conspicuous items. Now, it’s true that some of the objects listed can be possessed without illicit intentions, so the statute also lists the factors used in determining whether an object is truly “drug paraphernalia.” These factors include, among others: Statements made by anyone involved with the object at hand, their prior convictions relating to controlled substances, the existence of controlled substance residue on the object, and proximity “in time and space” to controlled substances or other violations of the statute.

Penalties for Drug Paraphernalia Charges in Alabama

The penalties for possession of drug paraphernalia, like those of marijuana possession, vary in degree depending on the circumstances. If the charge is a first-time offense, it will be a class A misdemeanor, a crime with penalties of up to a year in jail and fines.

Penalties for Cultivation, Sale, and Trafficking of Marijuana in Alabama

According to Alabama Code § 13A-12-231, any person who “knowingly sells, manufactures, delivers, or brings into this state… in excess of one kilo or 2.2 pounds of any part of the genus cannabis” is guilty of a felony known as “trafficking in cannabis.” The penalties for trafficking are much harsher than those for possession and include a mandatory prison sentence (along with fines) dependent on the amount of marijuana involved, ranging from three years in prison and $25,000 in fines to a life sentence without parole.

How Are You Likely to Be Caught with Marijuana in Alabama?

Despite the changing reputation of marijuana in the United States, police officers in Alabama will not simply let it slide if you are found with any amount of marijuana. Even slight specks of unused marijuana or minor residue on paraphernalia are likely to be discovered if these objects are on your person at the time of contact with police. As usual, the best way to avoid marijuana charges is to avoid drug use entirely, but if you have been charged with any marijuana-related offense, immediately seek the counsel of a qualified criminal defense attorney with experience in drug related cases. Attorney Jeff Tickal has considerable experience within this realm, especially with Auburn students, and has the local knowledge required to successfully defend your case in the Auburn Municipal Court system.

If you have any further questions, contact us (334) 737-3733.

possession of marijuana charges in auburn, alabama

Possession of Marijuana Charges in Auburn, Alabama

By | Auburn Local, Drug Offenses | No Comments

As of 2017, twenty-six states and the District of Columbia have laws which legalize marijuana in some way, whether for recreational or medical purposes. Alabama, however, is not one of these states. So, while breaking marijuana laws may seem like casual civil disobedience, in Auburn, it is very much still a crime to possess, use, or cultivate marijuana in any form. In this article, we will explore possession of marijuana charges in Auburn, Alabama.

Marijuana Possession Laws in Alabama

In 2015, marijuana possession resulted in 26 percent of all drug related arrests in Alabama, the highest number of any other drug; and, while some organizations are arguing for reform of Alabama’s marijuana laws, this change has yet to come to Alabama. According to Alabama statutes, there are two different degrees of possession offenses, each with their own definitions and implications. First degree possession is a felony, while second degree is a misdemeanor; however, neither charge looks good on a criminal record.

Second Degree Possession of Marijuana: Alabama Code § 13A-12-214

Second degree marijuana possession is a charge meant for individuals facing their first marijuana related offense. According to Alabama code § 13A-12-214, a person commits the crime of possession in the second degree if, “he possesses marijuana for his personal use only.”

But how is “personal use” determined? “Personal use” is more of a fact specific definition.  Even if the amount of marijuana is small, if it is divided up for sale or is in some format that isn’t traditionally for personal use.

Personal use is a flexible amount. We have had to make the argument that a 1.5 pound was for personal use when the Defendant was a heavy smoker. It is not a good argument to try to make to a jury.

Note: anything over 2.2 pounds is considered trafficking marijuana in Alabama. As long as the defendant has no prior marijuana convictions, second degree possession is a class A misdemeanor, and penalties for this offense can include jail time of up to one year and fines.

First Degree Possession of Marijuana: Alabama Code § 13A-12-213

First degree marijuana possession is a felony offense, and is a charge intended for individuals who possess marijuana in an amount over the “personal use” classification, or individuals who have been previously convicted with possession of marijuana in the second degree. As codified in Alabama Code § 13A-12-213, possession in the first degree is a class C felony, a charge with penalties of up to 10 years in prison and fines.

How Do Most Auburn University Students get Caught?

Often, students are charged with possession because they are in possession of marijuana paraphernalia and haven’t cleaned it properly. For example, if you have a grinder in your vehicle, a police officer may smell the marijuana, search the vehicle, find the grinder, and find trace amounts of marijuana left on the grinder. The student is then charged with both possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana second.

If you have any further questions, contact us at (334) 737-3733.

Photo by Michael Fischer from Pexels

How Not To Get Arrested at Alpha Psi Rodeo

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How Not to get Arrested at Alpha Psi Rodeo was originally posted prior to the 2016 Rodeo, but the lessons are true for 2017 and beyond.

By:  Jeffrey G. Tickal, Esq.

Gullage & Tickal, LLP

334-737-3733

Spring is in the air, and it is now about time for the 2016 Alpha Psi Rodeo to be held on April 2, 2016 at Ingram Farm, Opelika, AL, about 25 miles outside of Auburn.

running-across-the-porta-pottys-while-people-threw-beer-at-you-was-the-favorite-pastime-e1402003400129For the last 15 years I have been representing students who have been arrested at the Alpha Psi Rodeo or on their way home.  In 2015, 45 people were arrested at the rodeo site.  This number is misleading because it does not reflect all of the arrests for DUI’s, Public Intoxication, or Public Lewdness in Auburn as part of the Rodeo’s aftermath.  Because the Alpha Psi 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 having a criminal record.

This article is taken from my “Top Ten Things That Will Get You Arrested at Auburn”  Seminar.

·      Driving Under the Influence – “Hey man, am I driving ok?  I think we’re parked man.”  Just because you are at the rodeo and not on a public highway does not mean a police officer cannot arrest you for DUI. If you are in actual physical control of the vehicle whether it is on a public highway or in a grassy field 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 car that is parked and still be arrested for DUI.  Although the event is not in Auburn, I am sure that the Sheriff will be on patrol on the roads back to Auburn, and the Opelika and Auburn Police Departments will most likely have a net set up to catch intoxicated drivers entering their jurisdictions. Get a designated driver and don’t drink and drive!

·      Public Intoxication – “I did not want to be drunk in public, they threw me into public.”  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 either are so drunk that they find you lying in the bushes, vomiting or passed out, or 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.  There are also going to make contact with you if they find you on the top of a porta potty with a handle of Jim Bean.  Once the police officer makes contact with you, how you respond usually determines whether or not you are going to get charged with PI or be allowed to move along.

·      Public Lewdness – “Don’t get naked in public.”  Public Lewdness is the negligent exposing of the genitals to the public.  Public Lewdness 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 draws the attention of the police officer.   The charge of public lewdness will be carried with you through 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 not to 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 “not to get naked in public” and avoid relieving yourself in the site of others.

·      Minor in Possession of Alcohol —  “That’s not my beer.”  The legal drinking age in Alabama is 21.  Having possession of alcohol by a minor is a criminal offense in Alabama and 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 in that the officer is not going to charge you with a minor in possession of alcohol. If the police officer does see you with alcohol he has every right to charge you with possession or consumption of alcohol by a minor.  Although this may not be a priority for the officers at the rodeo that day, it is something they can charge you with if they make contact with you.  If you are going to make yourself noticeable, you might not want to have alcohol in your possession if you are not of legal age.  Over this last several years, the ABC Board would be present at the Alpha Psi Rodeo.  Their main purpose was to arrest those minors for the possession and/or consumption of alcohol as well as other alcohol related offenses.  It was kinda their super bowl of the year for minor in possession of alcohol cases.

·      Fake ID’s – “Yes, I am Nick Pappagiorgio from Yuma”.  Leave your fake ID at home.  There is no sale of alcohol at the Alpha Psi Rodeo.  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.  I have recently represented several students charged with possession of fraudulent or forged document.  This is a serious offense because it is a crime of moral turpitude.  We have had to work diligently to try and get them out from under those charges.  Presenting a fake ID to an officer is a much more serious offense in that not only are you in possession of a forged document but you 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.  Do not carry your fake ID to the Alpha Psi Rodeo.

·      Possession of Marijuana – “Ooh that smell, can’t you smell that smell?”  Police officer catches the smell of marijuana in the air like a blood hound on a trail of a raccoon.  He will follow that smell until he finds its source.    There is no hiding 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 is simple as that.

·      Disorderly Conduct – involves either fighting, obstructing vehicular of pedestrian traffic, making unreasonable noises, or disturbing a lawful assemblance 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, i.e. 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 again 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, i.e. their friend is here, their ride is here, their purse is here, or 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 just probably had enough of the students near 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.

·      Resisting Arrest – “Don’t taze me Bro!”  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 is 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 charge, it normally results in some sort of jail sentence which might otherwise be 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 that student in the back of the patrol car threatening the police officer, cussing, 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.)

The above list is not an exclusive list of items and not meant to cover all of the items that you can be charged with while at the Alpha Psi Rodeo.  However, keep these things in mind may help prevent you from getting arrested and enjoying yourself at the Alpha Psi Rodeo.    Each of the items listed above can be equally applied to spring break or going out on a Friday night.

If you have any questions regarding any of the above, please feel free to contact my office at 334-737-3733.  We will be available the Saturday and Sunday of the rodeo if you wish to call us or need assistance.  However, after the arrest, 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.

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Gullage & Tickal, LLP