Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, marks the beginning of the Lenten season. It's a time when people let loose and celebrate. And Galveston, TX, is a hot spot for revelries. From February 18th through March 1st, the island city will host its annual Mardi Gras! Galveston.
The festivities, filled with parades, parties, music, and alcohol, attract people from near and far…and law enforcement officials.
While Mardi Gras is a time for extravagance and fun, not everything goes. Laws are still in effect. Conduct violating local ordinances or state statutes can result in an arrest, criminal charge, and prosecution. There are no exceptions during Mardi Gras.
Below are a few common Mardi Gras crimes:
- Assault and battery: Crowded streets, restaurants, and bars coupled with drinking can cause a simple disagreement to become a full-on fight. In Texas, intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly injuring another person can result in up to 1 year in jail and/or up to $4,000 in fines.
- Disorderly conduct: Shouting, yelling, and cheering are all in good fun, but using abusive language, making an offensive gesture, or threatening or fighting with someone may be criminal. Also, while boob-flashing is often associated with Mardi Gras celebrations, exposing intimate body parts, such as the anus or genitals, in public where someone can be alarmed or offended is illegal. In Texas, these acts are punishable by a fine of up to $500.
- Drug possession: Some revelers might celebrate with more than alcoholic beverages. But bringing controlled substances, such as heroin, ecstasy, cocaine, or marijuana to the festival is sure to result in a possession charge.
- DWI: Consumption of alcohol during Mardi Gras is typical. Still, drinking to the point where normal mental or physical faculties are impaired or blood alcohol concentration reaches 0.08 or more can result in a DWI charge if the intoxicated person gets behind the wheel. Driving while intoxicated can be penalized by no more than 180 days in jail and/or up to $2,000 in fines.
- Evading arrest: An arrest might seem unfair or arise from a misunderstanding, but trying to stop an officer from performing an arrest or search can bring even more charges. The offense is a Class A misdemeanor, carrying a jail term of up to 1 year and a fine of up to $4,000.
- Open container of alcohol: Having an open container of alcohol in any passenger area of a vehicle is illegal in Texas, even if the individual isn't drinking it. The offense is punishable by a fine of up to $500.
- Public intoxication: Drunk revelers abound at Mardi Gras celebrations. Walking around intoxicated in public isn't necessarily a crime unless the individual is a danger to the safety of themselves or others. Public intoxication can be penalized by a maximum $500 fine.
- Theft: A lot goes on during Mardi Gras celebrations, and people might not constantly have their eyes on their property. However, that does not give anyone license to unlawfully take items without the owner's consent. The penalties for theft in Texas vary depending on the property's value.
If you're celebrating in Galveston this Mardi Gras season, stay safe and be mindful of local ordinances and state laws. You don't want your night to be cut short by an arrest or your life to be changed by a criminal charge. For tourists, an arrest in Galveston can mean an added inconvenience. You may be required to appear in court here even though you live miles away.
At Zendeh Del & Associates, PLLC, we recognize that mistakes or miscommunications can happen, especially during a massive celebration like Mardi Gras, and criminal charges are possible. That is why we are here to provide the legal representation you need.
We also help out-of-towners navigate their cases by explaining local laws and policies. When circumstances permit, we can appear in court on your behalf.
To learn how we can defend you, call our Galveston team at (409) 204-5566 or contact us online today.