Increased Arrests Imminent at 2017 Sunset Music Festival

Multiple deaths and dozens of injuries at the 2016 Sunset Music Festival has all but ensured that there will be increased security at the Tampa gathering this year. Last year’s event—located at the Raymond James Stadium—sent 59 people to the hospital and ended with the death of two young people.

The source of the injuries? MDMA, or “Molly” abuse. Drug abuse, compounded by dehydration, led to the first major disaster at the music festival since it started in 2012. Festival spokesman Todd Josko said, “Protecting the health, safety, and welfare of fans is Sunset Music Festival’s top priority.”

Mayor Bob Buckhorn disagrees, however. He believes that the festival’s promoters seemed to prioritize money over safety and hoped that Sunset Music Festival wouldn’t return to Tampa. That hasn’t stopped the festival from returning for Memorial Day weekend this year. Thankfully, there will be better access to drinking water to mitigate the effects of dehydration. That’s not the only adjustment we expect this year, however.

Likelihood of Arrests This Year Has Skyrocketed

The police hope that last year’s events aren’t repeated—which is why the festival’s promoters have advertised a zero-tolerance drug policy in the weeks leading up to this weekend. Because EDM has been tied to psychoactive drugs that raise body temperature, the police are likely to crack down on any suspected drug activity.

Increased vigilance demands more staffing. Josko has agreed to increase the Tampa police presence at the stadium, including the use of police dogs.

Last year, there were 25 felony arrests made at the festival—the attorneys at Thomas & Paulk expect this year to be far more active, however. Police will be especially vigilant regarding the selling of MDMA. In 2016, a teenager was arrested who had nearly half a pound of MDMA on him. Attendees like him will be the target of increased scrutiny.

What to Do If You’re Arrested for Sale or Possession

If you’re attending Sunset Music Festival this year and you’re arrested, there’s only one thing you need to do: call a Tampa criminal defense lawyer immediately. As soon as you’re in custody, searched, or detained, you need to make clear your desire to speak to an attorney. The police officers should immediately stop questioning you until your lawyer arrives.

Thomas & Paulk is Tampa’s premier drug crime defense firm. We have handled thousands of cases, securing acquittals and dismissals for all types of drug crimes. If you’ve been arrested for possession, possession with intent to sell, or for any other crime this weekend, we’re standing by to secure your freedom and protect your future.

Call 813.321.7323 or contact us online for a free consultation on your case. We’ll drive your way whenever and wherever you need us.