The shoplifting charges that LiAngelo Ball and two of his UCLA teammates picked up in China yesterday are no joke.
The middle Ball boy could be facing 3 to 10 years for allegedly stealing from a Louis Vuitton store next to the team's hotel. UCLA is in China because they open the season there against Georgia Tech on Friday.
Sentencing guidelines in China are very dependent on what is stolen. Given Ball is accused of ripping off a high-end luxury goods store in a nation in which 82 million people live on less than a dollar a day, it doesn't look good.
It is possible (perhaps likely) that the US government and/or the UCLA administration jumps in and tries to get the charges reduced.
The case could also be dropped to the lower “administration violation” rather than robbery, which would lessen any potential penalty including prison time, according to Jeremy Daum, an attorney and research fellow at Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center based in Beijing.
It's also possible LiAngelo didn't do what he's accused of doing. But, in China, defendants are often locked up a month or more before any kind of official indictment comes in. In LiAngelo's case, he's been released from jail and is confined to the team's hotel. He will have to stay there until the case is adjudicated.
If LiAngelo is indicted, Chinese courts have a 99 percent conviction rate.
LiAngelo Ball's dad LaVar doesn't seem that worried about it.
"I'm going to wait until I get more intel on what's going on" before he comments on LiAngelo Ball's arrest but said he's not worried. "He'll be fine," he said. "Everyone's making it a big deal. It ain't that big a deal."