The players allegedly targeted a Louis Vuitton store outside Shanghai.
LiAngelo Ball and two other UCLA basketball players have been arrested in China for shoplifting and could now face 3-10 years in prison.
Yahoo Sports reports that three UCLA players including LiAngelo Ball were arrested in China on Tuesday for shoplifting – a crime punishable by 3-10 years in prison if convicted. Sentencing depends on the amount stolen.
Anyone convicted of “robbing public or private property using force, coercion, or other methods” can face a fine and between 3-10 years in prison by Chinese law according to Jeremy Daum, an attorney and research fellow at Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center based in Beijing.
Ball and his comrades allegedly shoplifted from a Louis Vuitton store near the UCLA team hotel outside of Shanghai. The Bruins are set to play Georgia Tech on Saturday in China for the season opener.
LiAngelo ball is the younger brother of Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball and the son of basketball sneaker entrepreneur LaVar Ball.
The other two players involved in the incident are freshmen Cody Riley and Jalen Hill.
Hong Kong-based researcher of the Chinese court system for Amnesty International, William Nee said the trio could be detained for over a month without bail before local prosecutors decide to press charges.
It is not uncommon for the defendant to have to wait 30-37 days before being indicted according to Nee. Chinese prosecutors have a 99.2% conviction rate.
The US consulate maybe be able to resolve the case sooner by working with local attorneys, but nothing is certain.
“I would say they could be in quite a bit of trouble if they have solid proof that they shoplifted,” Nee told Yahoo Sports. “However, part of it will depend on whether their lawyers, the university, or the U.S. consulate can advocate and negotiate on their behalf.”
Wen Yu an attorney based in Guangzhou in Southern China, told Yahoo Sports that if “police have some solid evidence like CCTV video and/or the stolen good discovered from their hotel rooms,” options may be limited.
“The Shanghai consulate can work on this but if the evidence is sound, there is not much for them to do.”
“The police will be very careful to handle this case at such a sensitive time,” Wen Yu continued. “Without instructions from above, they will not let the students out easily because the authorities want to prove foreigners are treated equally here.”
“Returning the goods, expressing remorse, admitting guilt and accepting fault and punishment can all reduce the sentence; and with a first-time offense will be important mitigating factors,” Daum said. “I suspect that there are political calculations involved here as well, yes, and the embassy can pursue diplomatic channels.”
UCLA said in a statement, “we are aware of a situation involving UCLA student-athletes in Hangzhou, China. The University is cooperating fully with local authorities on this matter.”