What are the possible legal risks of a warehouse party? 4 Answers as of March 25, 2014

I was considering throwing a party at a warehouse that I will be renting from a friend of a friend for one night. I would not be serving any alcohol and there would only be non-alcoholic drinks. However, people could bring their own. There will be under aged people there. I would have a bouncer at the door, and make it a point for them to tell everybody that no smoking is allowed inside the building and have a 5 dollar admission or donation fee to cover costs of lights and extra sounds. I would have multiple local bands who are bringing their own equipment and setups, but I am not paying them for their performance, it is just a promotion for them. Those are just the main details. I would like you to tell me the possible risks of the party if the police were to come, the charges I would have and the charges the attendees would have. Additionally, in the event of the police coming, what would be my best way to approach them if they were to ask about sound complaints, permits, or alcohol?

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Lawyer for Indie Media
Lawyer for Indie Media | Sue Basko
Your party could possibly be closed down by the police for running an unlicensed entertainment venue. What police do, if anything, depends on the reason they arrive at your party and what is happening there. You are not required to let the police inside without a warrant. Once inside, they can look at or search what is in plain view and make arrests based on that. What is the reason the police arrived? It is because someone called about loud music, people smoking, drinking, or doing drugs outside? Does there appear to be underage drinking or teens out past curfew? Are there people parking their cars all over the place? Groups of what appear to be teens or rowdy adults roaming around the neighborhood making noise? Is anyone outside with an open container or cup of alcohol? Or has any violence or disaster happened, such as fighting, shots fired, or a fire? Whatever has happened tells how the police will respond. The best case scenario is that the police tell you to keep the noise down and leave. The worst case scenario is that they bust the part, handcuff everyone with zip ties, and make mass arrests. There are hundreds of legal, licensed venues in which to hold a party. Many venues will even give you a free party space just for bringing in a crowd that will buy drinks. You might be surprised that you may be able to get this even at an upscale venue. If you want to hold a big event, it is best to do that in a place that is licensed for entertainment and for alcohol.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 3/25/2014
Sebby Law Office
Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
As the host, you would be liable for everything illegal or harmful that happened to anyone. That includes violating state and local laws, failing to obtain required permits, providing alcohol to minors, failing to work with the utility companies to provide additional electricity and garbage service, failure to meet mandatory hygiene standards for restrooms, dealing with the inevitable illegal drug use, fights, sexual assaults, fires, drunk driving by those who attended the event, charges by the owner of the building, parking violations, etc., etc., etc. Some of these are minor violations and some are felonies with serious time in prison.
Answer Applies to: Nebraska
Replied: 3/24/2014
Hugan Law | Christopher Hugan
The only advice I have is this: do not host this party.
Answer Applies to: Tennessee
Replied: 3/24/2014
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