Gasparilla Pirate Festival

Gasparilla Pirate Festival Lawyers

Serving Arrestees & Defendants in Tampa Since 2001

Before Tampa earned a reputation as an ideal vacation destination, it was frequented by pirates stopping between their crusades for a bounty on the high seas. Today, these pirates live on through local tradition. Their stories, true or otherwise, are retold through an annual celebration that honors the legendary Spanish pirate captain, Jose Gaspar, who is famous for his varied and impressive feats. 

The Gasparilla Festival is a colorful celebration of Tampa's pirating past. 

The three-month-long pirate festival kicks off with the Parade of Pirates where hundreds of pirates sail across Tampa Bay and finish their trip in downtown Tampa. These pirates accompany Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla as they navigate the 165-foot Jose Gasparilla through the water. After this parade, Tampa will have several related community events until March. Unfortunately, some people who attend this event celebrate a little too authentically, so an increase in crime is a less glamorous tradition associated with Gasparilla. 

Real Results for People Arrested at Gasparilla

If you or someone you love gets involved in legal trouble while attending the Gasparilla Pirate Festival, regardless of whether it was DUI, BUI, disorderly conduct, drug crimes, or any criminal offense, we encourage you to get Thomas & Paulk involved immediately. Throughout the years, we have successfully handled more than 7,000 criminal cases — including those involving individuals who were arrested at Gasparilla events. 

In one case, we represented a client arrested for having an open container. We convinced the State Attorney to drop all of the charges. In another case, we represented a college student arrested for underage possession of alcohol. We got the State to agree to drop all of the charges in lieu of community service.

Do not hesitate to contact our Gasparilla Pirate Festival lawyers today for a free case evaluation! Call (813) 321-7323 or fill out our online case evaluation form.

Gasparilla Festival Rules, Criminal Charges & Penalties

The annual pirate-themed event has a 100-plus-year history. The legend of Jose Gaspar was popularized in 1904, so he became the patron rogue of Tampa's annual celebration. The first year was such a success that the city demanded the organization to become a permanent fixture of the city-wide celebration every year. The celebration of Gasparilla has carried on ever since, missing only 10 years throughout the 20th century. While Gasparilla is an annual celebration known for the fun, it is also known for an increase in arrests around this time. From open container violations to underage DUI, police crack down on multiple crimes during the festival.

Though most of the 300,000 attendees will stay out of trouble, some will be arrested for celebrating a little too much. Crime at the event has decreased significantly since 2010, but it is still hard to avoid when such a large group gathers in a dense area to celebrate. During the 2018 Gasparilla, authorities arrested 38 people for crimes ranging from underage drinking to battery. On the water, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission arrested 15 people for boating under the influence.

Crimes associated with Gasparilla often include the following:

  • BUI & DUI
  • Underage DUI
  • Underage drinking
  • Possession of an open container
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Battery

Continue reading to learn about Gasparilla rules, arrests, and more, or take this opportunity to contact our team for a free consultation.

Contact Our Team

If you or someone you know was arrested at Gasparilla, Thomas & Paulk is standing by to help. We've been representing clients in Tampa and across Florida for over 20 years, and we've successfully handled numerous Gasparilla Pirate Fest cases. Learn more today!

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What You Should Know About Gasparilla

Important Gasparilla Festival Rules

While there has been a decline in Gasparilla Pirate Festival arrests over the last few years, it is still a serious issue. This can be addressed by being knowledgeable about the event’s rules and regulations.

For example, the following items and actions are strictly prohibited:

  • Underage alcohol consumption
  • Open alcohol containers
  • Kegs or vessels of mass alcohol distribution
  • Styrofoam cups and containers
  • Glass containers of any kind
  • Coolers (exceptions made for medical needs)

By knowing the regulations surrounding the Gasparilla Pirate Festival, you can ensure that you have fun while still being safe and protecting your legal rights.

Open Container Violations

Most of the arrests that occur at the Gasparilla Pirate Fest are for open container violations. Parade-goers will be detained and issued citations for possessing alcohol outside of the designated area along the parade route (the “wet zone”), where the alcohol is permitted. An open container violation is treated as a second-degree misdemeanor.

Underage Drinking Violations

Underage drinking is another common cause for arrest at the Gasparilla Pirate Fest. Florida draws a tough line when it comes to minors drinking alcohol: there are zero exceptions. According to the Florida Statutes §562.111, a minor’s possession of an alcoholic beverage is a second-degree misdemeanor, with penalties of 60 days in jail, a monetary fine of $500, and suspension or revocation of their driver’s license. For repeat offenses, this is a first-degree misdemeanor with license suspension or revocation.

BUI & Other Arrests at Gasparilla

The other crime that law enforcement will be looking for is BUI. If you are planning on taking your boat to Gasparilla, the captain should not drink any alcohol. You can be stopped for a safety check of your vessel to see if you have all of your required safety equipment. Boating under the influence (BUI) can be charged under 46 USC 2302(c). 

Gasparilla Pirate Fest “Zero Tolerance” Policy

Gasparilla Pirate Festival is known for community fun, but it is also known for open container violations, fights, underage drinking, and more. For this reason, police officers strictly enforce their “Zero Tolerance” policy. Primarily, this means that the police enforce “wet” and “dry” zones. These are areas where you will and will not be able to carry open containers of alcohol. The only areas where open containers will be tolerated are along the direct parade route and the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.

Other Gasparilla Pirate Fest regulations include:

  • Nobody can carry around glass containers of any sort.
  • Alcohol cannot be carried/stored in kegs or similar large containers.
  • “Flashing” or displays of nudity for beads is prohibited.
  • Alcoholic beverages must be consumed from a can or plastic bottle.
  • No driving while under the influence.
  • No weapons, motorized vehicles, or bicycles are allowed.
  • There will be no fighting or property damage allowed.
  • Trespassing on private property will not be tolerated.

Call Thomas & Paulk for Skilled Counsel

Thomas & Paulk is a criminal defense firm with extensive experience defending those who are facing DUI, BUI, open container, assault, and all types of charges. As one of the premier criminal defense firms in the Tampa area, our team has the experience needed to help clients fight their charges. For help with any Gasparilla-related matter, give us a call today.

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