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What happens if I get arrested at the Iowa State Fair?

Well over 1 million excited people cross through the gates of the Iowa State Fair every August. It's a time to celebrate the state's culture, get some delicious food and drink and check out the variety of entertainment.

Of course, all the crowds can invite extra scrutiny from law enforcement on the lookout for fairgoers that flout the law. As you plan your trip to the Iowa State Fair, here are a few things to keep in mind.

The Iowa State Fair Police Department

In 2018, the Iowa State Fair added its own police force to help patrol the grounds, rather than relying on partnerships with public law enforcement agencies. Iowa State Fair Police Department officers must be state-certified, and are equipped with a firearm and handcuffs.

They're asked to respond to all manner of incidents, and can issue citations as well as make arrests.

Types of infractions

A large percentage of arrests at the Iowa State Fair involve public intoxication, but police will respond to fights, thefts, drug use and possession, harassment and more. There is a booking office on the fairgrounds, and law enforcement vehicles are onsite to transport suspects to the county jail if needed.

Also keep in mind the fair bans guns and all other weapons from the premises, whether you have a permit or not.

What to do if you're arrested

As is the case everywhere else, your rights should not be violated during an arrest at the Iowa State Fair. It's possible, especially at a busy fairgrounds, that all the commotion results in confusion around your arrest. If you're taken into custody:

  • After being read your Miranda rights, state clearly that you want to remain silent.
  • Ask to speak to an attorney.
  • If asked, tell officers you do not consent to a search of any of your property, be it a bag or your vehicle.
  • If it's unclear whether you are actually under arrest, ask if you are free to leave.
  • Remain calm and follow the officer's instructions.

Also try to remember as much about the incident and arrest as possible. Law enforcement officers must follow clear procedures that respect your rights. The more information you can offer your attorney, the better they may be able to help your case.

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