Every year, Miami’s Ultra Music Festival is one of the city’s premier events with attendance numbers expected to hit 165,000-170,00 people.  People from all over the world come to enjoy the sights and sounds at the festival, tickets for the event sell out months in advance.  For the event the City of Miami increases the police presence at the festival grounds, inevitably resulting in a spike in arrests for the three days the festival is held.  For those attending Ultra, here is some advice from a criminal defense lawyer on how to best handle an interaction with the police.

  1. First and most importantly, ask the police officer if you are free to leave or if you are being detained! Often, people are free to leave and are not required to interact with the police officer, yet they hang around and voluntarily give the officer valuable/damaging evidence. Get a clear answer from the officer, you are either free to leave or you are being detained, there is no middle ground.  If you are free to leave, quickly and quietly walk away from the police officer.
  2. If you are being detained, you now have nothing more to say to the police officer. If the officer is requesting your identification, you can silently provide the officer with your identification card.  Refusing to speak with a police officer does not mean you should be rude or disrespectful to the officer.  Politely tell the officer you are choosing to not answer any of their questions without a lawyer present.  No matter what the officer says in an attempt to get you to speak, your answer remains the same, “Officer _____________, I am choosing to not answer any questions until I have a lawyer present.”  Even answering small questions such as “where are you from,” “what is that funny smell” or “where are you going” should be avoided.  Your response to such questions will be a refusal to answer any questions.
  3. This follows naturally from the last point, do not consent to any search of your person or belongings. Even if you think there isn’t anything of interest to the police in your belongings, your answer is the same. No search!  If the police forcibly search you or your belongings, do not forcibly resist.  These are issues to be fought in the court house, not out on the street.
  4. Civility goes a long way with police officers in Miami. A large percentage of the cases I see in my office may have been avoided if the interaction between my client and the officer had not turned so hostile. Even if the cop is being difficult, you can remain silent while being respectful.

Ultra music goers, our office wishes you a safe and arrest free experience as you enjoy our beautiful city.  In the event you’re one of the unlucky ones this weekend, feel free to call our office 24/7 and speak to a criminal lawyer for a free consultation at 305-615-1285.  Every case at Pagan & Stroleny, P.L. is handled by a former Miami Dade Prosecutor with years of experience, having handled thousands of cases.