Lawyers for Burners will continue to provide support and resources for Burning Man participants who are cited or arrested at the 2015 Burning Man Event. If you receive a citation from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), please fill out a feedback form on the top left tab, and Lawyers for Burners will respond with legal information and assistance in obtaining representation for your citation. If you were arrested by the Pershing County Sheriff, Lawyers for Burners recommends that you contact Reno, NV criminal defense attorney John B. Routsis; 571 California Ave; Reno, NV 89509 (775) 785-9116.
Alerts for 2015
Entering the Event and Driving on Gate Road
In recent years, the BLM has shifted its drug enforcement efforts from patrolling inside the Event to stopping vehicles as they enter the Event. While the BLM cannot freely enter your camp and search for drugs without a warrant, probable cause, consent or exigent circumstances, the BLM can stop your vehicle and create probable cause with its dogs. You do not have to consent to a search. Take great care while entering the Event and while driving to your camp on Gate Road, the outer ring of the Event. In 2013, about 85% of the participants who contacted Lawyers for Burners reported receiving citations while driving into the Event.
Participants reported being stopped for ticky-tacky motor vehicle infractions like driving 13 mph when the speed limit was 10 mph or obstructed rear license plate. Once stopped, participants reported being asked if they had any drugs and whether they would consent to a search of their vehicle. Some Participants reported that after they said no, the officer went back to his vehicle and returned with a drug sniffing dog. Some participants reported that it seemed like the officer caused his dog to “alert” even without the presence of drugs. This “alert” by the dog can become probable cause to search Participant’s vehicle.
If the BLM finds drugs in your vehicle, the BLM will issue you a citation for $525. If you wish to contest the citation or plea bargain the citation to a non-drug offense, contact Lawyers for Burners through the feedback form on this site. Contrary to what the officer may tell you, it is very unlikely that you will be arrested or evicted from the Event for drug possession. Be polite, know that you do not have to consent to any interrogation or search, and enjoy the rest of the Event. Lawyers for Burners will assist you after the Event.
Caution Driving Through Mono County
Attention Southern California Burners: the Mono County Sheriff Dept. conducted a “saturation patrol” on Hwy 395 during the 2013 Burning Man Event and arrested 17 people for felonies, mostly participants traveling to Burning Man. One participant told Lawyers for Burners that a Sheriff’s Deputy told him that his Department was “hunting” Burners. Take great caution when traveling on Hwy 395 through Mono County. Since Mono County is hostile to Burning Man participants, consider whether you want to support the economy of Mono County as you travel through.
Results from 2014
Every single participant who contacted Lawyers for Burners after receiving a drug citation at the 2013 Event was offered the chance to plea bargain the citation to a non-drug offense. The BLM offered to dismiss the drug possession citation if the participant agreed to plead guilty to a motor vehicle infraction. The BLM routinely reduced the $500 fine as well. Attorneys affiliated with Lawyers for Burners worked directly with the United States Attorney’s Office (the part of government that prosecutes citations written by the BLM) to accomplish these results. Lawyers for Burners acknowledges and appreciates the work of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Reno, Nevada for its management of the Burning Man citation calendars every year.
If Participants are unable to return to Nevada when their court date is scheduled, attorneys affiliated with Lawyers for Burners can represent you and make your court appearance for you. The cost of representation is usually only a couple hundred dollars. Lawyers for Burners can recommend attorneys who will represent participants and negotiate better plea arrangements for very reasonable fees.
All of the citations issued at Burning Man are for infractions (less than misdemeanors) and participants can simply pay the fine and be done. If the citation was for driving in violation of the “closure order” and a fine of $125, the cost of fighting the citation may exceed the harm of pleading guilty to the charged offence. But if the offense is possession of a controlled substance, pleading guilty to the charged offense could have severe personal and professional costs. Regardless, if you ignore the citation, the BLM can, and has, obtained arrest warrants for participants who ignore a citation.
THIS INFORMATION IS PROVIDED AS A COURTESY FROM LAWYERS FOR BURNERS AND SHOULD NOT BE CONSTRUED AS LEGAL REPRESENTATION. THIS IS LEGAL INFORMATION, NOT LEGAL ADVICE, WHICH IS AN INTERPRETATION OF THE APPLICABLE LAW TO SPECIFIC CIRCUMSTANCES. WE URGE YOU TO CONSULT A LAWYER FOR LEGAL ADVICE OR REPRESENTATION ABOUT A PARTICULAR LEGAL QUESTION OR ISSUE YOU MAY HAVE.