Drug Busts at Music Festivals

May 24, 2023 Criminal Defense, Drug Charges

Music festivals have been around for decades, and thousands of people of all ages attend festivals around the U.S. each year. One common issue that arises at music festivals is the possession and distribution of controlled substances. Law enforcement is known to go undercover at music festivals to try and target those who attempt to sell drugs or other unlawful items.

In Florida, the penalties for drug charges can vary based on the type of drug and the amount found in the defendant’s possession. This page will provide information on common drugs found at music festivals, differing drug charges in Florida, and example cases of major drug busts at nearby festivals.

Dangers of Drugs at Music Events

Music festivals are a wonderful way to bring people together to enjoy a shared experience of music and togetherness. However, music events are also known for the indulgence of alcohol and controlled substances. This is especially true for multi-day festivals where camping is involved. Festival attendees have been arrested for attempting to sneak in or abuse controlled substances while at festivals. The most common drugs found at festivals include:

In addition to potential criminal charges, festivalgoers can experience an extreme risk to their health when abusing drugs. Side effects from taking drugs at a music festival include feeling dehydrated, nausea, fatigue, anxiety, and in the most severe cases, death.

You can find out more about the dangers of drugs at music festivals in our blog post here.

Example Cases

  • Okeechobee Music Festival – The Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office made 21 arrests during the four-day music festival in March 2017. According to the report, law enforcement confiscated six pounds of marijuana, 150 hits of LSD, two pounds of marijuana edibles, and 100 hits of ecstasy. In addition, there were 50 ecstasy capsules, 200 pre-rolled marijuana cigarettes, 30 LSD-dipped cigarettes, 25 marijuana gummies, and 150 items of drug paraphernalia.

Okeechobee Sheriff Noel Stephen gave the following statement after the arrests:

“We welcome anyone that travels to Okeechobee for the [music festival] and encourage them to enjoy the festival. However, we will do all we can to eliminate as many drugs coming into Okeechobee County. With the help of assisting agencies, the weekend searches resulted in a large amount of narcotics taken off the streets.”

  • Suwannee Hulaween Music Festival – The Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office arrested 16 people on drug trafficking charges at the three-day Hulaween Music Festival in October 2019.

According to the report, undercover law enforcement completed a “buy bust” which led to the seizure of over 9,500 ecstasy pills, over 1,600 LSD tabs, 955 oxycodone pills, 325 Xanax pills, 85 grams of Alpha-PVP, 16 grams of suspected DMT, four grams of heroin, and under 20 grams of marijuana.

The three defendants faced varying charges such as trafficking LSD, oxycodone, and heroin, possession of a structure or vehicle known to traffic drugs, marijuana distribution, possession with the intent to sell, manufacture, and deliver, and charges of resisting an officer.

  • Sound Haven Music Festival – The Fentress County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) made multiple drug busts and arrests at the 2022 Sound Haven Music Festival in Tennessee. According to the report, there were over 100 grams of drugs and $2,000 cash seized by law enforcement over the weekend. The confiscated substances included:
    • Marijuana – 51.3 grams
    • Mushrooms – 32 grams
    • PCP – 5 grams
    • Ketamine – 10 grams
    • Cocaine – 6 grams
    • Fentanyl – 5 grams
    • Meth – 3 grams
    • Marijuana dabs – 9 grams
    • Nitrous Oxide – 850 grams
    • Xanax – 10 bars
    • Adderall – 3 tablets
    • Cash – $2,175

In addition to the drug charges, FCSO arrested nine individuals for accusations including sexual harassment, unlawful use of debit cards, theft, trespassing, and vandalism.

Drug Charges in Florida

In Florida, there are different drug charges a person may face depending on the specific substance and quantity found in the person’s possession. The list of Florida’s Drug Schedule is codified under Florida Statute Section 893.03.

A defendant charged with possession of a controlled substance can face either a second-degree misdemeanor or a third-degree felony.

A defendant charged with possession with the intent to sell can face either a first-degree misdemeanor or a second-degree felony.

A defendant charged with drug trafficking will have different penalties depending on the specific drug in the defendant’s possession. To be charged with drug trafficking, the defendant has met or exceeded the possession of the following substances:

  • Marijuana – 25 pounds or 200 cannabis plants
  • Cocaine – 28 grams
  • Fentanyl – 4 grams
  • Hydrocodone – 4 grams
  • Oxycodone – 4 grams
  • Morphine –4 grams
  • GHB – 1 kilogram
  • LSD – 1 gram

Getting caught with any of the above thresholds can result in facing drug trafficking charges.

Defenses to Drug Charges from a Music Festival

If you have been arrested at a music festival due to the allegations of drug possession, it is in your best interest to speak with a legal representative as soon as possible. A skilled defense attorney can review the case details and work to build a strong defense for your case. Defenses to a drug charge in Florida include:

  • Insufficient evidence
  • Unlawful search and seizure by law enforcement
  • Unreliable informants or witnesses
  • Mistaken identity
  • Entrapment

Contact a Tallahassee defense attorney today to discuss your defense options.

Contact an Experienced Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

Getting accused of drug possession and distribution can result in harsh penalties in Florida. While music festivals are known for being an open environment for music, drugs, and alcohol, it is imperative that you are aware of your rights and legal options if police arrest you. Even if you have already been charged with a drug crime, it is highly advised to contact a defense attorney in Florida to discuss your legal options.

Pumphrey Law Firm has worked with individuals across the Sunshine State who have been accused of criminal defenses. Don Pumphrey and his team provide the upmost support and legal guidance to our clients throughout the entire process. To consult with Don Pumphrey or another team member regarding your case, contact us at (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message to receive a free consultation today.

Written by Karissa Key

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