Sobering consequences: Legal tips for Fake Patty’s Day

(Courtesy Photo from RCPD Capt. Jeff Hooper)

Fake Patty’s Day can be a fun-filled holiday for many students, but the flocks of people who go out to celebrate also increase the presence of law enforcement. Sarah Barr, attorney for Student Legal Services, provided important tips for students to ease their encounters with the police.

“There’s going to be a lot of tickets written,” Barr said. “A way to avoid having contact with law enforcement this weekend is to not break the law. Go home, be somewhere else.”

Barr emphasized the importance of partying proactively, being aware of your surroundings and watching out for your friends. Students should be cognizant of how their behavior affects other people, specifically with regard to Manhattan’s noise ordinance.

“You will violate the noise ordinance if your music extends beyond your property line,” Barr said. “If you’re at a loud party, there’s likely to be police involved.”

Even if no laws are being broken, certain activities can still draw the eyes of law enforcement.

“You can have a party without any alcohol at all, but you’ll still draw attention because you’re young and the expectation is that everyone is drinking,” Barr said.

Police officers from all over the state will be in Manhattan this weekend to assist RCPD with the crowds. These officers may have different expectations of behavior depending on the norms under their regular jurisdiction.

“It takes more to get the attention of a police officer who works in Manhattan day in and day out. A bunch of kids playing washers out in a yard is not going to get a second glance most of the time,” Barr said. “You get an officer from a place where that isn’t typically what they see, and that will draw their attention.”

Fake Patty’s does not have to be an automatic conflict, but it is important to know the consequences of illegal actions. Like any other weekend, most punishments will be in the form of tickets, fines and diversions.

“A diversion is a contract decided by a prosecutor that you enter into with the city of Manhattan or Riley County, depending on what jurisdiction you have to appear in,” Barr said. “You agree to do certain things for them, and in return, the charges are dismissed.”

Barr said underage drinkers are likely to be issued a ticket called an NTA, or notice to appear. They will be given a court date and asked to sign the ticket. From there, if they have no previous diversions, they can either apply for a diversion or ask for a trial.

“The people who are having a party will also get an NTA for furnishing alcohol to minors and or hosting a party where underage drinking is taking place,” Barr said.

For offenses over Fake Patty’s weekend, the consequences are more severe.

“Every diversion fee and fine is doubled starting Friday morning until Sunday evening,” Barr said. “A minor in possession of alcohol would normally have a $300 diversion fee and $149 court cost. This weekend, it’s a $600 diversion fee and $149 court cost. If you have a fake driver’s license, that’s another $600 diversion fee on top of that.”

Though arrests increase over Fake Patty’s weekend, only the more serious crimes are likely to end in jail time.

“The arrests are going to be for battery, trespassing, disorderly conduct, drugs, DUIs and the like,” Barr said. “They’re going to give as many NTAs as possible, so unless the crime is serious enough or the police want them off the street, tickets are more likely.”

It is important when confronted by law enforcement to provide factual information to avoid being arrested.

“A quick way to get arrested is to be completely uncooperative and obstruct the legal process,” Barr said. “You can run two steps and fall down, you can give a fake name or fake birthday and trigger that situation. If you obstructed the process, you aren’t going to get any kind of diversion or break from the prosecutors.”

Once you’ve been arrested, then you’ll be taken to the police station where you’ll be processed. Then, you’ll have to pay 10 percent of your bond to hire a bondsman.The bondsman gets you out of jail, and then you’re given a court date and from there the process is similar to a ticket.

“If you have a friend who is arrested, then you call the RCPD jail and ask about them,” Barr said. “They’ll tell you how much their bond is and then you can try to scrape together the bond money to get your friend out of jail.”

It is important to know your rights, but on Fake Patty’s weekend, it is more important to be aware of the situation. Barr said many police officers will have short patience from the long hours they’ve had to work.

“You do have a right to remain silent,” Barr said. “Any other weekend, I would talk a lot about what your rights are, like not consenting to searches and pleading the fifth. I think when you’re talking about Fake Patty’s Day, the best bet is to just cooperate and give the right information.”

Many college students have tight financial situations, and a costly ticket could seriously impact their lives.

“The sheer economics of how expensive this could be needs to be considered,” Barr. “If you want to party this weekend, fine. But bring your checkbook, because it will really cost you.”