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fourth ammendment/unlawful arrest? false imprisonment?

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At approximately 12:30am on Saturday, July 22, 2000, my friend and I arrived at Brushwood folklore center in Sherman, NY. Brushwood is a "clothing optional" campsite and they were hosting a week long festival known as Starwood held by a Cleveland, OH company the Association for Conciousness Exploration.

Thankful we beat the 1am registration deadline for the day (per their web page), we signed in and were told the $180 payment couldn't be accepted until the following day (?). To ensure payment prior to departure, they held onto my friend's driver's license and recorded his plate number. We then had to wait for an escort who led us to an area to set up camp.

Upon waking that afternoon, we set out to pay our registration fee for the festival. We were then informed the payments were to be made at another location. Failing to locate the described area, my friend and I decided to go back to camp. During this time I set up my tent in the woods (we slept in the car the night before), and made a fire to cook dinner. I heard some commotion outside of the trees near where my friend had his car. Moments later he came back to say he was confronted by two older male campers who expressed concern over his videotaping nude females. My friend said he put away his camera, apologized, and said it wouldn't happen again.

After dinner, we set out to hang in the woods for a while. We came back to my tent about three hours later only to be discovered by an obese lady in a black dress screaming at us for 'trespassing' and telling me how I had to watch videotapes with her. I told her I was not tresspassing but if I was to be treated this way as a guest, I would be leaving promptly. With a huff, she went after my friend.

I followed her out to the field where the car was parked only to find the doors locked as they were when we left but the trunk was WIDE OPEN and the front tires deflated! This female was screaming like the queen of hearts "search the car, I want all of the videotapes" (apparently they had a policy about videotaping on grounds despite several employees and fellow campers talking photographs with professional reflex 35mm cameras and video cameras). My friend loudly and clearly objected to the search several times and surrendered the videotapes and camera (inside of the car)to get them to shut up. However, this was not enough to appease the lady in black (later, she was identified as the festival coordinator). She began shouting orders to search the car again only to have several men dive into the vehicle like kids on an easter egg hunt.

During all of this, I sat and watched. I knew it was important to take everything in
and "tell it to the judge". I watched another camper come up to the passenger side of the car with my friend behind him (apparently, he had gone to pay the fee). The lady is still screaming "search the car" and my friend is objecting "do not search the car, there are no more video tapes in the car, there is no need to search the car, i do not give you permission to search the car".

In a panic, my friend goes to the open trunk and looks around to make sure everything is in order. The camper comes up to his right side and nudges my friend over (i'm less than 12 feet away). The man points to the clear plastic corner of a pound zip loc freezer bag jutting out from the opening of a black duffle bag after 9pm with no light in the trunk (he later claims it was in "plain view"). "What's this?", he asked. "I don't know," my friend explained, "some kind of food." "I'll give you another chance, what is it?" The man pulled it out by the corner and identified himself as a state trooper (his report states it was 'in plain view') and my friend said, "well, uh, it kinda looks like marijuana". The cop then proceeded to dig around and found tupperware container of about a pound of "ditch weed" with quite possibly and equal seed and stem to marijuana ratio (the police gave us a better look during booking). The one cop said "man, where do you get your weed from?"

My friend admitted to purchasing 4.5 +/-ounces of hydroponically grown marijuana from a man on the campsite but has no idea where the 1 +/- lbs in the tupperware container came from.

I was searched for weapons and they found in my back pack inside of my tent a pipe that must have been in there for a year or more. Of course, since it was used at one time, it had "marijuana residue" on it. So I was cuffed and placed in a separate vehicle than my friend and taken to jail (fortuately, I was able to post my $100.00 bail). My charges are a violation for trespassing and a violaton for possession of less than 25g (more like .001g). My friend is facing 2nd or 3rd degree felony charges (he hopes). He has retained an attorney in New York who has a positive working rapport with the prosecuting DA. He has a pristine record and two bachelors degrees (legal studies and administration of justice). The police did find a scale but they gave it back to my friend(?).

I'm getting a lot of feed back concerning this and I'm being told my civil rights have been violated. Is this so? What should I do?

Thank you.




I am a law school graduate. What I offer is mere information, not to be construed as forming an attorney client relationship.

If regular civilians searched your car, there is no 4th amendment violation. But you can sue them for trespass or conversion of your property.

As to the police, they either had to have probable cause absent a warrant, a search warrant, there had to emergency circumstances for them to search (like you were going to jump in the car and go), plain view or a warrant.

If we talk about plain view, your attorney should argue that although the civilians were the ones who trespassed and opened the trunk and they themselves did not violate your 4th a right, their actions did lead to the police violating it.

If it is found your 4th a right was violated, any evidence and arrested based on that violation will be thrown out absent limited exceptions.

Get a criminal defense atty immediately, try attorneypages.com or call your state bar association (411).

Hope this helps.

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