UCLA freshman LiAngelo Ball and two teammates are in hot water after being arrested on charges of shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton store in Hangzhou, China. And, according to Sports Illustrated's legal expert Michael McCann, since shoplifting charges involve considerably stiffer penalties in China than they do in the United States, there is a potential that they could even face jail time for their actions.
UCLA traveled to China to play Georgia Tech for the team's season-opener on Friday, and were staying at the Hyatt Regency Hangzhou. The Louis Vuitton store that they allegedly stole from is located directly next door to the hotel.
According to McCann, people convicted of petty theft can face "some combination of up to 15 days in jail, fines and warnings" through what is called an "administrative punishment," which is a process whereby the police determine guilt.
But where things get particularly concerning for Ball and his teammates is that shoplifting high-value items can lead to a prosecution in China's criminal justice system. There has been no information released on what goods the players stand accused of stealing, or the value of what was allegedly stolen, but Louis Vuitton is known for its high-end products. Also troubling is that the Chinese criminal justice system is far less protective of the rights of the accused than we are here in the U.S.
Nevertheless, LaVar Ball does not sound very concerned about the situation:
For now, Ball and his teammates—freshmen Cody Riley and Jalen Hill—have been released on bail, and aren't expected to play on Friday.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting that the three UCLA players are likely to face 20 days of house arrest as punishment for shoplifting, according to a source they say is familiar with the matter. Furthermore, they would never be allowed to visit the country again. The AJC says that UCLA has neither confirmed nor denied this information. Updates to come.