InkedFur’s Furry Friday: Convention Hotel Rooms Aren’t A Fucking Brothel

Holy shit, is it already time to open up the cages and let the technicolor zoo roam free again? Yes, you fuzzy little assholes, it sure as shit is. Welcome to yet another Furry Friday on Lawyers & Liquor, this time brought to you by my newest, greatest partner in insanity, InkedFur.com. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one making bad decisions related to you furry fucks, and InkedFur has graciously cast their lot in with me for the time being, or until I really and truly fuck shit up. Until that time, though, they’ve also given you guys an awesome discount code on “Dakimakuras,” which my research tells me it’s an anime body pillow, for this month only with the code “BOOZYSENTYA.” Go buy shit from them. They pay me.

So, it’s been an interesting fucking month, hasn’t it? The amount of messages that have poured in since announcing you assholes were getting a monthly spot on the round-up of bad decisions has been amazing, and every suggestion you made was duly considered, then immediately disregarded. As I’ve said before, I don’t even let other attorneys dictate what I write on this site, why the hell would I let a collection of animals tell me what to do?

BUT there was something that became really goddamn clear as I spent my month awash in a sea of dildos and art (which, by the way, may just become the name of my autobiography at this point), and that was convention season is on the horizon and none of you motherfuckers have even the barest understanding of what legal rights you do and don’t have when wearing massive costumes and consuming copious amount of liquor in a rented room. So, after a few brief moments of consideration, I decided that may be a good thing: giving you guys an idea of your legal rights in regards to hotel rooms in a likely ineffective effort to keep you from getting picked up by animal control as you criss-cross the continents in search of the next sketchbook to glance in and then immediately fucking regret.

So, let’s take a moment this Furry Friday and look at hotel rooms and the law. Go get a smoke or something. This one’s gonna be long as hell.

First, I want to thank the troll that sent an email that started as follows:

“So… I’ve taken to having orgies in my hotel room, sometimes.”

Now, you can’t get a more eyecatching fucking email opener than that, so of course I read on as the insanity began somewhat benignly, then quickly escalated to thick plastic sheeting, kiddie pools, copious amounts of bodily fluids and food, and lube wrestling. It ended with this gem:

“Also, can I kidnap a cult member and deprogram them in a hotel room for two weeks? Is that allowed? How about handcuffing someone to the radiator and letting them go through withdrawal during the off season at a beach resort?”

God do I hope this was a fucking troll…but either way, the writer raised a good point. What are your rights and obligations in relation to a hotel room? Do you have any special rights? Does the hotel have to cater to your desire to Awoo the night away despite the complaints of other guests? Or is your standard furry as wide-open as a fox’s legs when it comes to being thrown out into the night with only your fursuit to keep the cold away?

I Don’t Represent Animals: The Disclaimer

Few things I want to get started before you fuzzbutts get your tails tangled up in knots: this is an academic and esoteric discussion of the legal matters surrounding hotel rooms. This is not fucking legal advice, do not fucking run out there screaming a lawyer on the fucking internet said some shit to you. The laws that apply to this shit are state-specific, and if you’re genuinely worried you need to contact and meet with a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction, preferably not dressed like Harvey the Wonder Hamster, but fuck it, you do you.

The second thing is, this shit is so fucking state specific, as the interpretation of the law is very much based on case law. That means that one court in one state may have decided a matter WAY FUCKING DIFFERENTLY than another state. Your local laws are probably going to fucking vary.

So, in essence: this ain’t legal advice for your specific state or situation, and I ain’t your goddamn lawyer. Now, let’s start talking.

Hotels Generally Can’t Turn You Away.

The area of “hospitality law,” which is really the law regarding hotels, is mostly based in industry standards and old English common law traditions related to innkeepers, with a smattering of federal intervention due to that minor kerfluffle regarding not letting folks of a certain race get a room. While some states have codified (that’s “made fucking laws about” for you unedu-ma-cated folks out there) the rights and obligations of the innkeeper, or in this particular case kennel keeper, and specific state laws will apply, most hotels are governed by what we call a “Duty to Receive.”

No. This is not the same “duty to receive” that certain species are under. Get your fucking mind out of the gutter.

What a “duty to receive” means is that a hotel, with some very specific exceptions and maybe a few additions based on state law, has a general duty to provide you with a room provided:

  1. They have enough rooms available to accommodate your party;
  2. You can pay; and
  3. You aren’t going to use the room for some illegal purpose.

Now, I say “some exceptions,” and that’s because several states have created these things called “innkeeper’s rights bills” that restrict the duty to receive in certain circumstances. For instance, in the case of Pennsylvania, where Anthrocon (which I’ll be at) is being held, the applicable statute is 37 P.S. 101, et seq. which gives five reasons an innkeeper can refuse to rent you a room:

(1) Any person who is unwilling or unable to pay for accommodations and services of the lodging establishment…
(2) Any person who is disorderly.
(3) Any person who the innkeeper reasonably believes is seeking accommodations for any unlawful purpose…
(4) Any person who the innkeeper reasonably believes is bringing into the lodging establishment property which may be dangerous to other persons, such as explosives or illegal firearms.
(5) Any person who exceeds the maximum number of persons allowed to occupy any particular guest room in the lodging establishment, as posted by the lodging establishment.

Under any of those five circumstances, under Pennsylvania law, a hotelier can tell you to take your foam head elsewhere without any other reason, and, notably, this is a codification of the common law principles that apply to almost every innkeeper. So the rules are pretty damn similar in most places.

You Have A Right To Be In The Room, Similar To A Tenant.

But, so long as you can keep the freak flag from flying freely in the hotel room in between breakdancing wolves and artistic gazelles, you generally have a sort of lessened tenancy in the room from the moment that you check in until the moment you check out. This means that the room, for all intents and purposes, is your temporary dog house away from home, and the hotel can’t just barge into the room or demand you leave all willy-fucking-nilly once you’re there.

But, and this is a big fucking but, that doesn’t mean you can do whatever the fuck you want to do at home in the room, folks. It’s not your goddamn house, and just like a landlord can toss you out for causing severe property damage or breaking the terms of the lease, so too can a hotelier turn you from a guest to a stray in a short period of time. See, those five reasons up top aren’t restricted to denying you a room, they’re also reasons to evict you from a room you’re already in. Why is this important?

Well, let’s look at some shit that happens during conventions, okay? Somewhere out there, right now, some guy is planning to show up on Anthrocon and essentially weasel his way into a sleeping arrangement in a room that he isn’t registered to be in. He figures that, for one night, he’ll be able to find sleeping accommodations with some kind hearted soul that has floor, closet, or tub space up for offer. But, see, there’s a problem here: if the room already has the maximum number of occupants, the moment you let another one stay in the room you’re violating the goddamn agreement with the hotel and creating a good reason to send the whole fucking room packing.

“No problem, Boozy,” cries the kid in the back with the rabbit-ear headband and a disturbing number of disrobed mustelids in his sketchbook, “I’ll look for people that haven’t filled their room capacity and see if any of them will let me stay!” No, dipshit, still a problem. See, even if they don’t have the maximum number of furry fucks already inhabiting the natural habit of “funky body odors and whiskey farts” that such spaces tend to devolve into, it’s still not okay. There’s a very specific definition of “Guest” when it comes to hotels, and that’s a person who is a) paying for the hotel and b) signs the guest register or, in the more modern area, has provided their information to the hotel in order to stay in a room. Everyone else is a “visitor” who is allowed on the premises at the sufferance of the hotel and can be removed at any time from the grounds at the insistence of the hotel.

In Pennsylvania, it’s even more complicated for this, as hotels are required by law to maintain a register of a guest’s name and identity, including the dates that all guests are present in the hotel. If a person doesn’t appear on that register, they are, for the purposes of the hotel, an unregistered guest, and letting that person stay is flat-out grounds for the fucking eviction. Other jurisdictions follow that rule, too, by the way.

Wait, Why Can’t I Just Register As My Fursona?

Well, other than the fact that a hotel may question why Barry the Bondage Budgie is requesting a rollaway bed? Because doing that is obtaining a hotel room under false pretenses, and is grounds to toss your ass out. Look, you don’t have to disclose your name to all of your roomies, although I question the fuckin’ wisdom of rooming with a bunch of people whose real names you don’t know, but you sure as shit have to disclose that information to the hotel. This was at issue in the 8th Circuit case of U.S. v. McConnell, 903 F.2d 566 (8th Cir. 1990). So, yeah, be a budgie with everyone fucking else, but tell the hotel who the fuck you are.

I Don’t Want Housekeeping to Come In.

Too fucking bad. Seriously, too fucking bad.

In a minute I’m going to get into the right to privacy that you have in a hotel room, but let me be clear, you can’t fucking keep the staff out of your room just because you want to.

“You just said they can’t come in whenever they want,” I hear the fucker in the pastel-rainbow salamander suit scream. Well, no, that’s not what I said. I said they can’t come in willy-nilly, and that part was right. You have a right to quiet enjoyment of the hotel room that you’ve bought and paid for during the course of your stay, and generally that’s gonna mean hotel staff can’t just barge in at 3 a.m. with a Super Soaker of sudsy water screaming “HAVE YOU BEEN FOLLOWING THE 6-2-1 RULE, ASSHOLES?” It does not mean they can’t come in the room at all.

Hotel staff and management have three times that they can generally enter your room:

  1. normal and routine maintenance;
  2. emergency situations; and
  3. to investigate suspected misuses of the room/illegal activity.

Yeah, that’s right. If a hotel has a reason to believe that you’re breaking the rules, they certainly have the right to ask you to open the damn door so they can take a look in. In fact, that right’s probably written right into the guest policy that you never bothered reading upon check-in, just to make doubly sure you dipshits don’t try to street-lawyer your way out of it. And housekeeping? That falls under the “normal and routine maintenance” provision of the right to enter. The rule of thumb is housekeeping can come in about once a day to make sure the room is being maintained and no further maintenance is done, regardless of whether you care or not.

About That Fetish Party Thing…

Yeah, I knew we’d get to that sooner or later, so I might as well address it now before we get into the really dull constitutional shit.

So, if you haven’t caught the fuck on yet, the relationship between a con-goer and the hotel is sort of a really abbreviated version of a landlord-tenant relationship overall, with a few less rights. One of those “few less rights” is the whole right to have a hearing and shit before you are evicted from the hotel. Yes, you can and will be summarily fucking evicted from a hotel for being a stupid fucking asshole, and then be forced to sleep in the back of a spavined Toyota Corolla that hasn’t had an oil change since Rainfurrest 2015. You will be made aware that you’re being evicted when the hotel staff, normally with the help of the local police, knock on the hotel door and politely ask you to get your shit and get out.

We covered that there are a number of reasons the hotel can evict you, and most of them are related to the same reasons that a hotel can refuse to let you register as a guest in the first place, and a lot of them are pretty fucking obvious. Illegal shit, refusing to pay, unregistered guests, etc. Pennsylvania, though, and most states, have another one that says you can be evicted for being “disorderly,” a class of actions that the Pennsylvania statutes defines as follows:

A person is disorderly if, with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm or recklessly creating a risk thereof, the person:

(1)?engages in fighting or threatening or in violent or tumultuous behavior;

(2)?makes unreasonable noise;

(3)?uses obscene language or makes an obscene gesture; ?or

(4)?creates a hazard or physically offensive condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose of the actor.

37 P.S. 102, “Disorderly.”

So, breaking that shit down, you’re disorderly if you fight like a fuckwit, be a noisy and inconsiderate fuckwit, scream words like “fuckwit” at people, and/or “create[ ] a hazard or physically offensive condition.”

Let me ask…you think 30 people getting shitfaced in a hotel room with a maximum occupancy of 6 may create a wee bit of a fucking hazard?

How about pissing all over the goddamn carpet and requiring a hazmat team to clean up after you? Think that qualifies as a “physically offensive condition”?

Think the law will consider it those things? Because I fucking do. Remember, when you’re in the hotel at the con, whether or not this is your one weekend a year to cut the fuck loose and have the time of your life, you’re renting someone else’s property, and the law certainly allows them to protect their own property. Wouldn’t you give a shit if you let your bedroom out on Air BnB while you were gone and came home to find your carpet reeked of ammonia and whipped cream was ground into every fucking surface? Why should a hotel be any different just because it’s you trashing their fucking room?

Note, by the way, this isn’t limited to weird fetish shit. This is also a part of not trashing a goddamn room or making an unholy fucking mess, probably much greater risks than the hyperbolic sex parties that are assumed in the mind of the general public. So, you know, act like civilized fucking people and clean up after your goddamn self.

What if I’m on the Party Floor?

No fucking thing. Yes, I know that hotels have “party floors” as they’re colloquially called for conventions, so don’t start tweeting me a bunch of videos of foxes, otters, and rabbits doubled over while dobermans run a fucking train on them as the dubstep drops, okay? I know they exist, but there’s a difference between existing and existing if you catch my drift.

What the hotel is really doing is creating a floor where they’re unlikely to have anyone complain about the noise from the floor, and allowing the furries a little bit of leeway to wild out. It isn’t a free-for-all zone where the hotel has abandoned control of the establishment to the furries. It’s a favor the hotel is doing you guys, saying “Have fun, don’t be dicks, and we’ll look the other way…but the second you don’t we’re coming in with the full force of the law to drag your fur and foam ass out on the goddamn street, and we don’t give a shit what your relative stage of undress is at the time we decide it’s happening.”

You Said Some Shit About the Police and The Constitution.

Can’t we just fucking leave it here?

No.

Goddammit. Do you at least want to take a break or something? Cause the next part is gonna make this even fucking longer.

Start Dancing, Badger Boy.

Fine, you motherfuckers.

Let’s not mince our words: we all know some illegal shit is gonna go down behind the closed doors of a convention hotel room. Don’t act so goddamn offended, you’re wearing a rabbit suit and a leather bondage harness. That shit’s going down, and we all know it. By no means is it necessarily a large number of people, nor even a majority of the people, at the convention involved in illegal activities, but furries are people and people do stupid and illegal shit when away from home. So let’s dispense with the bullshit protestations and acknowledge that, as part of humanity at fucking large, there is most fucking definitely some illegal shit going down behind those closed doors. It’s not a furry thing, it’s a general dipshit thing.

Shriners are just as fucking guilty of it as furries, folks.

Anyhow, keeping in mind that illegal shit will occur in those rooms, the question then becomes “can the police search my room and find all of my illegal shit?” The answer becomes a combination of “No” and “Yes” that every fucking lawyer in the world recognizes as “It Depends.”

What About the Fourth Amendment?

Oh, it fucking applies. See, the first thing you need to accept is that the Fourth Amendment is, in the words of the Supreme Court, meant to protect “people, not places.” Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967). What this means is the level of protection that a person is entitled to under the Fourth Amendment is directly linked to the person’s reasonable expectation of privacy in the place, not to the type of place that’s being searched, and this is a test that requires the court to weigh the circumstances and conditions surrounding the place in relation to the person that the search is being made against. The strongest assumption of a reasonable expectation of privacy is in a person’s house, while the weakest expectation of privacy would be in a public place. Everything else falls somewhere on that scale between the two in whether or not the police can search the location without either a warrant or exigent circumstances, or some exception to the requirements of the Fourth Amendment such as “plain sight” or a search incident to a lawful arrest.

Hotel rooms, like I’ve said a few times now, exist in a weird legal limbo status. On one paw, they’re a hell of a lot like a person’s house in that it’s a temporary abode for the registered guests in the room, and therefore a person has a heightened expectation of privacy against police searches without warrants in the room. However, there’s a circuit split right now (which is a fancy way of saying that appellate courts are in disagreement and the Supreme Court has not seen fit to weigh in on the matter) regarding the actual details of these sorts of things. Some circuits have held that a person has an expectation of privacy in their hotel room right up until check-out time, and nothing thereafter as after check-out their right to occupation and possession of the room necessarily ends, while other circuits have held that the check-out time doesn’t really matter and the reasonable expectation and protections of the Fourth Amendment continue until the guest is actually and truly lawfully evicted from the room. In either case, it’s clear that the reasonable expectation of privacy only extends for so long as there’s an argument the person in the room has a lawful right to the possession of the room.

Additionally, the type of person in the room and the reason they’re in the room at all can play on the warrant and search requirements under the Fourth Amendment. For instance, if the hotel is being used by a person primarily, or even mostly, to conduct a “business transaction” (I’ll leave what that could mean up to your imaginations, you sick fucks), then there’s no real legitimate and reasonable expectation of privacy in the room and the warrant requirement is much looser. Likewise, if the people in the room aren’t the actually staying overnight then shit found in the room could be used against them, a throwback to the general principle that an overnight visitor in a house has a reasonable and legitimate expectation of privacy there, but a mere social visitor may not. But that doesn’t mean only a registered guest has that expectation of privacy and therefore the protections of the Fourth Amendment, as at least a few circuits have held that an unregistered overnight guest in a hotel room may be a problem for hotel management, but doesn’t necessarily protect their right to be free from an unreasonable search of the room.

This doesn’t mean “make sure someone in the room is a registered guest is good,” though. Remember when I said the rights of the Fourth Amendment are particular to the person, not the place? That means that evidence which may be excluded under the Fourth Amendment from being asserted against one person may be admissible against another person. For instance, if the police search a hotel room and find drugs, and do so in violation of the Fourth Amendment, the evidence may be excluded from being used against the actual person staying in the hotel room while still being perfectly admissible against a temporary visitor, because the visitor has no legitimate expectation of privacy in another person’s hotel room which would trigger the requirements of the Fourth Amendment. Also, remember those “normal and routine maintenance” exceptions we talked about earlier? Yeah, hotel staff, not being agents of the government, can totally call the police about shit they see in your room, and the police can then use that information to gain a warrant to search your room, and everything in there would be admissible.

Likewise, the police can be requested to act on behalf of the hotel management in removing your loud, obnoxious, drunken ass from the hotel room, causing the eviction. Now, this doesn’t automatically give the police the right to enter and search the room, but if they knock on the door and you open it, and they see some shit, that will. If a cop sees something obviously illegal in nature, the “plain sight doctrine” applies, and the police can normally seize it and use it against you, regardless of the protections of the Fourth Amendment.

So Don’t Open the Door to Cops.

I didn’t fucking say that. Stop assuming I said that.

But yeah, don’t open the door to cops, or at least don’t open the door any more than is necessary to speak to the officer, and if they request that you leave the room simply fucking comply…but don’t consent to them coming into the room.

In fact, don’t consent to any search of the room by a guy with a badge, because the hotel manager can’t waive your Fourth Amendment right, only you can, and the moment you let the cop into your rented room or consent to them searching the room, that’s out of the window. Now, if the police barge into the room, obviously don’t try to stop them or fight them. You remain polite and respectful, you let the assholes like me actually argue that their actions were far in excess of their constitutional authority.

So, What do I Do?

Not illegal shit in a hotel room, I fucking hope, but if you are doing illegal shit in a convention hotel room you need to do it in a manner that keeps the room clean, keeps the shit well hidden and out of sight, and otherwise be the most fucking respectful person on the face of the earth. The more trouble you make yourself, the more likely it is that the hotel staff is going to give your ass the old heave-ho and remove those constitutional protections.

Conclusions

Alright, so we’ve covered a whole fucking lot you fuzzy assholes, but it can be boiled down real simply:

Conventions are fun, and they’re a great time for you to get away from it all, meet up with your friends, and cut loose for a few days. As long as you’re a clean and respectful asshole, who respects the hotel rules, pays for your room, cleans up after yourself, and realizes that there are other people around you, you should be absolutely fucking fine. If you’re not, you’re gonna find your ass on the street. Also, while you have an expectation of privacy in a hotel room, it doesn’t extend to excluding hotel staff and the police are more able to search your room without a warrant than they would be at your house (in general), so…don’t break the goddamn law in an obvious way.

So, you know, don’t be a dick.

That about wraps it up for this month’s Furry Friday. Once again, thanks goes out to the insane motherfuckers over at InkedFur.com for giving me the excuse that the posts are sponsored so I don’t have to admit that I actually like talking you you furry fuckers. You can go get that full size body pillow thing at their site with the code “BOOZYSENTYA” for a discount for this month only. Outside of that, it’s time to stop asking “OwO What’s THIS?” and get your asses back in your cages.

Now. Before I get the fucking tazer out.

-BB(adger)