Last year, New Orleans police arrested 895 people during Mardi Gras. Some arrests were for serious state charges like selling drugs or aggravated battery but most were for municipal or traffic court offenses such as DUI and reckless operation.
Many people from out of town spent a disproportionate amount of their Mardi Gras trip in Orleans Parish Prison over relatively minor offenses that could have been avoided or mitigated. Many folks hear certain things about the laissez faire attitude of the police in New Orleans and think "anything goes". Also, many people believe that once someone is arrested little can be done until Ash Wednesday or even Thursday until the courts reopen. In this article, I correct the 5 myths about being arrested In New Orleans During Mardi Gras.
MYTH #1: If You Are Arrested Any Time Between Saturday and Fat Tuesday, You Are Stuck in Jail Until Ash Wednesday.
Since I have moved to New Orleans, I have heard this misconception hundreds of times from locals and visitors alike and it simply isn't true. Many people have wasted their Mardi Gras stuck in Orleans Parish Prison because their friends and relatives said "we can't do anything until Wednesday." As an experienced criminal defense attorney, I can get a bond set very quickly and once posted, assist in expediting the release of your loved one. While processing may take a little longer than normal during Mardi Gras, your friend or relative can be back out joining the party after a meal, shower and probably a nap.
MYTH #2: If I Am from Out of Town, I Won't Qualify For a Recognizance Bond or a Commercial Surety Bond.
It is rare for someone from out of state to be granted a recognizance bond. A bond releasing the defendant without posting money. (It is also referred to an "ROR" bond.) However, in some cases, I have represented certain facts judges setting bonds that allow a person from out of state to qualify for an ROR bond. While most commercial surety bond companies have their reasons for not writing bonds for people from out of state, retaining an experienced criminal defense attorney who has relationships with commercial bail bonds companies can facilitate a commercial bondsman writing a bond for you.
MYTH #3: If I Do Manage To Be Released From Jail, I am Stuck In New Orleans Until I Can Be Arraigned.
In certain cases such as very serious felony charges, this is true and you will have to file a motion asking the judge for permission to leave the state. However, for many misdemeanor and municipal court offenses, you can leave the state before your arraignment and have an experienced criminal defense attorney resolve your case for you.
MYTH #4: This Arrest Is Going To Follow Me Around and Prevent Me From Getting A Job.
You came to New Orleans to have fun. Next thing you know you are in the holding tank at OPP and are begining to wonder the consequences of this arrest. Even if your attorney is able to get the charges dismissed, you may think, "This is going to be on my record forever". Simply not true. Many felony convictions and all misdemeanor arrests and convictions are eligible to be expunged from your record. This means no one outside of law enforcement will find out about your Mardi Gras transgression.
MYTH #5: My Friend Has Been Arrested, I Am Just Going to Go To The Jail and See What I Can Do.
Mardi Gras is a very busy time at the jail and going to the jail is simply a waste of time. The people at the jail do not give out any information and if you aggravate them, it may slow down the process of getting your relative or friend released. In short, it is much more beneficial to call a criminal defense attorney who knows the process and procedure of getting people of jail and can perform the job efficiently.
My phones are answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even during Mardi Gras. If you know someone who was arrested at Mardi Gras, please do not hesitate to call us at (504) 304-2335. Much of what you hear about getting people released during Mardi Gras is pure myth.