When a star college basketball or football player gets in trouble it's usually a scary situation for the fans and the coaches. The latest incident involves the arrest of the North Carolina Tar Heels highest basketball scorer on a drug charge for marijuana possession. According to reports, Durham police arrested the accused recently after stopping him on what was called a routine 'license check.'
Police found a 9mm handgun on the ground outside the vehicle while conducting a search. They also reportedly found three cigars and two baggies containing a total of 1.5 ounces of marijuana. The star scorer and his two passengers were each charged with possession of controlled substances consisting of less than one-half ounce and released on $1,000 unsecured bonds.
One passenger is a basketball player for Elizabeth City State University. Police wouldn't say whether they determined who owned the pistol. No one was charged with it at last report. It's being processed for fingerprints and ballistic tests.
The administrators of the team wisely stated that all of the facts are not in. The accused player led the scoring last season and helped the team reach the ACC tournament final and the third round of the NCAA tournament. If it's found that the high-end car rental is connected to sports incentives, it could bring NCAA penalties and another embarrassing incident for the Tar Heels. The last one was a scandal that led to the firing of North Carolina's football coach.
North Carolina law carries a smaller punishment for a drug charge that involves a small amount of marijuana. In all cases like this, the authority to search the car and the driver should be thoroughly investigated by defense counsel early in the case. Normally, the stop shouldn't be made without some kind of suspicion of illegality. Further, it's not clear that a search would be proper merely because he had no license. Counsel and the accused will have to further discuss the facts and evaluate these issues.
Source: San Francisco Chronicle, "Gun found by police when UNC player arrested," Michael Biesecker, June 7, 2013