By Brandon Summers | July 3, 2019
Updated February 2020
Busking can be fun, rewarding, as well as challenging at times; and the last thing any street performer wants is a citation from Metro (LVMPD). But sadly, it happens. If you’re especially unlucky, you could end up in jail.
During my nine years street performing on The Strip, tickets were rare— arrests more so. But the game changed in late 2012. Casinos, Clark County commissioners, and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department decided that it was time to “clean-up” The Strip— a move justified by a $581,000 pedestrian study. That meant that the hammer was coming down on the homeless, panhandlers, water vendors, smut peddlers, and street performers. County ordinances were either introduced or revised to make life harder for the aforementioned groups (referred to as “non-permanent obstructions” in the publicly-funded traffic study). Police used to walk by me and give a nod; but in 2013, their behavior shifted to semi-regular stops. Since 2011, I’ve received
five eight citations— two of which landed me in jail overnight.
In my opinion, late 2016 was the beginning of a new era of draconian enforcement by LVMPD that was especially bad for musicians on The Strip. Prior to this period, musicians were not threatened with having their instruments impounded as evidence; but police added this strategy to their toolbox. I heard rumors of Metro confiscating instruments and costumes around 2017, and then it happened to me in September 2018.
Why Do Tickets Happen?
On the Las Vegas Strip, “obstructive use of sidewalk” 16.11.070 is the most commonly issued citation by LVMPD. Metro has been instructed to crack-down on performers who have anything on the ground. Musicians who use amplifiers are especially vulnerable. The first encounter with police is typically a verbal warning. The second could be a written warning or a ticket. Repeated encounters usually result in tickets and/or arrest.
What happens if I get a ticket?
Seek legal counsel as soon as possible. These citations are criminal infractions, not civil or traffic. You and/or your attorney will have to appear in court at least once, but expect to appear in court a few times over several months until your case is closed.
Why Arrests Happen?
Arrests are a step above tickets and bench warrants, multiple “priors”, and heated arguments with police officers increase one’s chances of taking a trip to Clark County Detention Center (CCDC).
A “prior” is a citation that appears on your criminal record when an officer runs your name, ID, and social security number. Keep in mind that these tickets are criminal, including the tickets that direct you to Community Impact Court.
A bench warrant is issued when you miss your court date(s). Don’t miss your court date(s).
Your initial appearance court date should appear on your ticket.
What happens if I get arrested?
You will be transported to Clark County Detention Center (CCDC) where you will be processed (fingerprints, mugshot) and placed in a holding cell. The amount of time you spend in jail depends on many factors (which I will not get into). An OR release (“own recognizance”) is the best case scenario. A Class II booking is the fast track to an OR release (“getting OR’ed“), and results in a release within a few hours. Otherwise, you will remain in jail until you are seen by a judge (on a weekday). In this case, the only way to be released prior to seeing a judge is bail. To learn more about bailing out, visit the Jail, Bail, Impound page.
If your instrument or other property was impounded, you will not received it upon release. It will have a new home at the LVMPD Evidence Vault. Visit the Jail, Bail, Impound page for more details.
Best of luck!