Whenever there is a music festival in upstate New York, one can expect to see some arrests for generally minor legal violations. The latest such festival, the Last Daze of Summer, took place recently in Oswego County. State troopers reportedly flooded the area around the festival, waiting for trouble, and they ultimately satisfied their expectations by arresting 13 people on a variety of drug charges.
Their reason for entering the concert grounds was that a 37-year-old man had died on the grounds. Authorities report finding paraphernalia on the man's body. Toxicology tests are pending and a cause of death is currently unknown.
Authorities reported seizing more than 2,000 hits of LSD, which they say was worth $21,530. They also report seizing 12.5 grams of cocaine, over a pound of hallucinogenic mushrooms, 3 grams, of Ketamine, 9 MDMA pills, 16 grams of MDMA and 12 ounces of marijuana. Although it is unclear, it appears from the press reports that the authorities made widespread searches of concert-goers after finding the dead man.
The man's death may have given the authorities some increased discretion, but they are still bound to show factual proof for intrusions on others' privacy. It would be improper for the police to do a wholesale search of the concert-goers without any limitations. If that was done, some of the arrests may be subject to a motion to dismiss for violation of Fourth Amendment principles. The same reasonable suspicion and probable cause principles apply despite the death of a concert-goer.
The police reported also seizing $19,607 that they attributed to drug sales. Although they stated that the situation with respect to drug charges at the venue had improved from prior events, nonetheless there was still a problem. Defense counsel will not be swayed by that assessment because it is their duty to assure that the constitutional rights of their clients under both the New York and federal constitutions were not violated by over-exuberant search and seizure tactics.
Source: syracuse.com, "13 arrested on drug charges at Sterling Stage festival in Oswego County", Samantha House, Sept. 8. 2016