Mardi Gras is amazing in New Orleans. Parades, balls, parties and uncontrolled mayhem in the French Quarter are staples of this time of year. If you are from out of state, enjoy your stay in New Orleans. However, you should realize that despite the reputation of "anything goes", people can and will be arrested in the French Quarter or on the parade route. With that in mind, here is some advice on how to avoid being arrested during your stay in New Orleans during Mardi Gras.
#1 Doing Drugs in Public
While drinking and merriment abound during Mardi Gras, there is an ample police presence in the French Quarter and on the parade route. One of the easiest ways to have your Mardi Gras ruined is to light up a joint in front of a police officer. This is an easy arrest for the police and his testimony "I saw you smoking a joint on the parade route" is enough to convict you.
#2 Public Urination
Bathrooms are in short supply along on the uptown parade and along Bourbon St. in the French Quarter. That however does not mean you should whip it out and urinate on someone's front lawn. This is stuff is frowned upon by the NOPD and judges. Two years ago a defendant was sentenced to five days Orleans Parish Prison for public urination. Don't be that guy. Go to a bar/restaurant buy a drink and use the facilities.
#3 Pubilc Nudity
Breasts for beads are a pretty common occurrence in the French Quarter. That being said, there is zero tolerance for public nudity for men. And public nudity for women is not acceptable along the uptown parade route. My advice: If you are going to flash, be ready to dash.
#4 Mouthing Off To A Cop
If a cop tells you to do something during Mardi Gras, he is trying to make your life easy. You may not understand his reasoning. Whatever. Just do what he says. The cops in New Orleans are on 12 hour shifts for 12 days straight. By time Fat Tuesday approaches, their patience is wearing thin and there's nothing more satisfying than running in a young drunk punk who gives a bunch of back talk to law enforcement. Take my advice: When a police officer says "move along", do it.
#5 Jumping On A Parade Float
Yes, people do this. Yes, they go to jail. Yes, they are convicted. Yes, they get relatively long sentences. While not jumping on a float may seem obvious to anyone who is sober, you would be amazed at what a good idea this seems like when you are inebriated. Just stay on either the neutral ground or sidewalk side and catch your throws.
As an experienced New Orleans criminal defense attorney, I can assure you there are other ways to get arrested at Mardi Gras in New Orleans. However, year in and year out, I consistently receive calls about these five offenses. If you do find yourself or a friend arrested in New Orleans, call me at 504-304-2335. Despite the myths about being arrested during Mardi Gras, I can begin working on getting you or your friend out of OPP immediately.