Lawyers for Burners will continue to provide support and resources for Participants who are cited or arrested at the 2013 Burning Man Event. Please fill out a feedback form on the top left tab, and Lawyers for Burners will respond with legal information and assistance in finding legal representation for your case.
Alerts for 2013
Gate road continues to be a staging ground for the BLM to conduct aggressive vehicle stops. BLM law enforcement officers stop vehicles after they enter the Event just past the Greeters station for a variety of reasons. Many participants have reported that officers asked the
Participant if she has any drugs and whether she would consent to a search of her 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 an officer can cause his dog to “alert” even without the presence of illegal substances. This “alert” can become probable cause to search Participant’s vehicle. Thus, Participants should proceed with great caution on all roads in Black Rock City, especially Gate Road.
BLM Officers and Pershing County Deputies Patrolling Together
The BLM announced for 2013 that it will partner with local Pershing County Sheriff Deputies in their patrols of Black Rock City. Teams of one BLM officer and one Pershing County Deputy will ride together in a single vehicle. The Pershing County Deputy will handle enforcement of state law and the BLM officer will handle enforcement of federal law.
Current BLM law enforcement priorities (based on the citations it issued in 2012) appear to be motor vehicle regulation and enforcement of drug laws. As reported below, over 70% of BLM law enforcement citations and arrests were drug related. Be aware that that Nevada’s drug trafficking laws are the strictest in the nation. Even gifting a small quantity of drugs to someone could result in being charged with drug trafficking. BLM and Pershing County working together could mean that there will be more arrests instead of the usual citations.
Lawyers for Burners believes that arrests should be limited to those people who are dangerous or disruptive to the Event. While receiving a citation is inconvenient and expensive, being arrested in the middle of Burning Man is major hardship for the Participant and friends. Participants whom the BLM catch possessing, using or even gifting drugs should be cited and released.
Results from 2012
BLM law enforcement for Burning Man told the Wall Street Journal, in an article which appeared on August 31, 2012, “My officers aren’t out there writing citations for a small joint; We’re looking for a large quantity of drugs.” But an analysis of the BLM’s law enforcement statistics from 2012 seems to contradict this statement.
BLM Law Enforcement issued 365 citations in 2012. Almost 70 percent of the citations, 253 citations, were drug related. But there were not 253 cases where BLM officers found “large quantities of drugs” in Black Rock City in 2012.
Lawyers for Burners heard from plenty of Participants who received citations for very small amounts of a controlled substance including, and with great frequency, marijuana. There also were many citations in 2012 for marijuana paraphernalia possession. The BLM continues to list possession of drug paraphernalia as violation of the published closure order. But marijuana paraphernalia is hardly equates with “large quantities of drugs.”
According to the BLM, there were also 11 citations/arrests for “Distribution/Trafficking” of drugs. Presumably, the BLM treats cases involving “large quantities of drugs” as “Distribution/Trafficking.” Thus, there were 11 cases involving “large quantities of drugs” in Black Rock City 2012. And the BLM wrote 253 citations for small quantities of drugs.
At the January 17, 2013 arraignment calendar, we also met a Participant who received 7 citations during one law enforcement stop in 2012. The BLM issued separate citations for a driving violation, weapons possession (a belt buckle with brass knuckles) and 5 additional citations for possession of small quantities of controlled substances.
Lawyers for Burners has observed for years that Participants often get multiple citations for a single law enforcement stop. Therefore, the number of citations in a given year has little significance and does not correlate with a level or incidence of infractions or crimes within Black Rock City. The Participant we met who received 7 citations at a vehicle stop underscores our message that the number of citations issued per year is controlled and manipulated by the BLM.
The good news for Participants in 2012 is that every Participant had the option to plead guilty to a non-drug offense like “Closure Order Violation” and pay a fine of between $400 for marijuana and up to $950 for multiple controlled substances. Lawyers for Burners attorneys negotiated this option with the office of the United States Attorney, District of Nevada in 2011, and it continues to provide a consistent and reasonable resolution of BLM issued citations.
Unfortunately, many Participants are unaware of this option and they simply pay the amount of the citations ($125 or $525) by mail. But Participants who do this can be pleading guilty to possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia. This guilty plea could negatively impact their personal and professional future.
Lawyers for Burners can recommend attorneys who will represent Participants and negotiate a more favorable plea arrangement. The lawyer can appear in court for the Participant so that the Participant does NOT have to travel to Reno, Nevada. Lawyers for Burners attorneys charge very reasonable fees. Some attorneys will represent Participants for no charge based on ability to pay.
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.