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What To Do If You're Caught With Drugs at a Festival

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4. Do not give the authorities consent to search you

"I strongly advise people to do this," says Bowman. "Most [scenarios] happen where the person is approached [by a cop], and it's a sort of a nebulous situation and a casual conversation where everything then rolls downhill and the next thing you know that person is being searched and drugs are being discovered. That's what you don't want to do."

What you do want to do is respectfully tell the police officer, "I'm not giving you consent to search my property." If they ask what you have to hide, again say, "Officer, I'm sorry I'm not giving you consent to search my backpack."

At this point, they can still search you if they have probable cause, but what you've done with your statements is make them declare their reason for doing so.

"Police are always going to try to reframe any sort of encounter with you as a consensual encounter," Bowman says. "It's so common in police reports. If you are from the start unambiguously saying, 'Officer am I under arrest? Am I free to leave? I don't want to make a statement ot you at this time, I'd like a lawyer, and no I'm not giving you consent to search my property or belongings,' they may search your stuff always, but they have to justify to a court later why they did."

Credit: Nanette Gonzales
Undercover cops? Well, we just don't know, do we?

5. Document the situation.

"It's well known that there is a percentage of cops that will just make it up, how the whole encounter happened," Bowman says. The most effective way to combat this is to have your friends whip out their cell phones and videotapes the entire event. If the cops try to shut this down, you are entitled to say, "Officer, I'm not interfering with this process or you arresting this person, but I am going to document what is happening."

Bowman doesn't recommend that the person interacting with authorities record the situation themselves, so be a pal if your friend ends up getting questioned.

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Katie Bain
Contact: Katie Bain

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