Archive for Saturday, June 17, 2006

Wakarusa arrestees have their day in court

Busy docket generates $11K in fines, fees

June 17, 2006

Advertisement

The local courts took on the feel of a trading pit Friday, as dozens of people busted at the Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival wheeled and dealed with prosecutors to get their cases resolved.

Charged with a misdemeanor? For a $200 fine and $117 in court costs, you could plead guilty or no contest and walk away with no jail time or probation.

For an additional $100, you could get prosecutors to drop the charge by granting a diversion. That offer was good only for those with no criminal history and able to pay the entire sum on the spot.

Roughly 70 people were scheduled to appear at Friday's District Court docket, which was set up especially for those arrested at Wakarusa. The smell of patchouli oil floated through the hallways. Signs directed defendants to one of two courtrooms based on their last names.

"Our objective is just to handle the volume," Dist. Atty. Charles Branson said.

Branson gave the following figures:

¢ Thirty-one people had their cases resolved - almost all of them through a diversion, but a few through pleas.

Dist. Atty. Charles Branson explains a woman's options for dealing with a minor in possession of alcohol charge. About 70 cases stemming from arrests at the Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival were presented Friday in Douglas County District Court.

Dist. Atty. Charles Branson explains a woman's options for dealing with a minor in possession of alcohol charge. About 70 cases stemming from arrests at the Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival were presented Friday in Douglas County District Court.

One man, for example, was charged with possession of marijuana, LSD and drug paraphernalia - all misdemeanors - as well as a felony drug-tax violation. Prosecutors agreed to drop the felony charge if he pleaded no contest to the three misdemeanors. He agreed and was ordered to pay $717 total.

¢ Eleven people failed to appear and will have warrants issued for their arrest.

¢ Twelve people said they planned to contest the charges and had their cases continued.

¢About 15 people appeared but were told they weren't going to be charged Friday. Branson said most of those cases were felony drug cases in which prosecutors were awaiting lab tests.

"We had to send the mushrooms and LSD to the lab - the ecstasy and all that," he said.

Judge Robert Fairchild heard cases in one courtroom; attorney Angela Stoller, acting as a judge pro tem, heard cases in another.

Jonathan Tunney, 18, Chicago, was charged with possession of marijuana after being caught in a surprise Kansas Highway Patrol check lane near the festival.

He drove from Chicago to Lawrence on Thursday to take care of his case. He left the courthouse Friday with diversion papers rolled up in his hand and $417 less in his pocket.

"I'm happy it turned out like this, but I think it was bogus in general," he said.

Branson estimated about 40 percent of the cases heard Friday involved minors caught in possession of alcohol. Prosecutors warned people that if they were convicted of that charge, the state would suspend their driving privileges for 30 days.

They also warned people that a conviction would be added to their criminal history, turning up on background checks.

Based on Branson's figures, the docket generated more than $11,000 in fines, court costs and diversion fees. The fines go to the state general fund, the court costs go to the court and the diversion fees go to the county's general fund, Branson said.

Wakarusa Festival 2006

More about the Wakarusa Festival

Video:

Stories:

Photo Galleries:

Turnpike coverage

Comments

Sigmund 11 years, 5 months ago

Ba-bye. Thanks for all your lovely money. Don't go away mad, just go away. Come back soon, but next time leave your drugs at home. Ba-bye. Thanks for all your lovely money. Don't go away mad, just go away. Come back soon, but next time leave your drugs at home. Ba-bye.

Here is you "But, this is really unkewl dude!" Here is me "BA-BYE!"

Michael McClain 11 years, 5 months ago

" Eleven people failed to appear and will have warrants issued for their arrest."

I'll bet these people are from out of state. As long as they are never arrested for anything nothing will happen to them. More of our tax dollars hard at work!

reginafliangie 11 years, 5 months ago

old_man:

There is a data base that is ran by all states when somebody has a warrant, some of them are extriditable and there for could get the person even if they are ran in another state for the simplest traffic infraction. So it is still possible to catch these subjects even if they are not in our state. Have a little faith.

Godot 11 years, 5 months ago

Wow, possession of an illegal drug and paraphanalia is a misemeanor, but possession of a legal substance, like alcohol, at the wrong age, results in license suspension (even if you weren't driving at the time of the offense) and a crimnal charge that remains on your record for the rest of your life. Lesson to young people: do drugs, not alcohol.

Christine Anderson 11 years, 5 months ago

I think it's hilarious! Wakarusa fest is nothing but a "pot-fest" , anyway. I love good music, but I'll not shed one tear if the police can CUT DOWN ON the other garbage that goes with it!

planetwax 11 years, 5 months ago

I loathe an article such as this. "The smell of patchouli oil floated through the hallways." It takes one person's perfume to odorize a hallway. This journalist should be ashamed to make such a statement.

Also, it is clear that this town is happy taking money from young adults, especially if they are from out of town. Just keep in mind that these were all non-violent crimes and one person's "pot fest" is another person's music festival.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years, 5 months ago

"They also warned people that a conviction would be added to their criminal history, turning up on background checks."

Translation: All your hard work in school may not matter so much now because very few of the Forbes 50 will hire you with a criminal record. Some will reply with "No, it's not that big of a deal", but none of those people are working for a major corporation. I work for a "top 5" financial services company, and I can tell you factually that failing a background check will prevent you from even getting an interview.

Furthermore, every Federal job requires a similar check, and there is NO way you could be career military with such a thing on your record. You can't even have unpaid bills, let alone a criminal record.

For weeks, we've been hearing "no big deal, no big deal" on these posts. But, if these kids get tired of the lifestyle, cut off the dreads and go looking for real work... that's the day that it will suddenly seem like a big deal.

pooter 11 years, 5 months ago

yahoo!

wakarusa festival+drugs=cash cow

*

gccs14r 11 years, 5 months ago

"...and there is NO way you could be career military with such a thing on your record. "

They're a bit more desperate these days.

moveforward 11 years, 5 months ago

Yeah... I am pretty sure the average Wakarusa attendee is seeing the military as an ideal career, even mores so a fortune 50 starched shirt gig.

justsomewench 11 years, 5 months ago

old- your company is running background checks as part of the initial application process? i sure hope you're wrong or that your pre-authorizations are zipped up tightly.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 11 years, 5 months ago

The drug thing is just a front, they are really looking for donut money. Otherwise, they might have to do some meaningful law enforcement and that is just too much work for these thugs.

lovenhaight 11 years, 5 months ago

I somehow doubt that the Wakarusa set has their hearts set on a career in the military...be realistic here.

Sigmund 11 years, 5 months ago

You never know, some might want to join the military or get a job at some point in their life. You have to think that out of 15,000 people there has got to be a couple who don't want to be doper losers all the rest of their lives.

local_support 11 years, 5 months ago

You're the only doper around here Sigmund.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.

loading...