Based on the reported details of the situation, it is unlikely that the three UCLA basketball players who were arrested in China this week will face severe punishment, three professors who specialize in Chinese law told USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday. ESPN reported that LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley were accused of stealing sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store near their hotel in Hangzhou and subsequently detained by police. According to multiple news media outlets, the three players were released on bail on Wednesday and required by police to remain at their hotel while the legal process unfolded. Jerome Cohen, the faculty director of New York University’s U.S.-Asia Law Institute, said that if Ball and his teammates have been allowed to return to their hotel, it is “a very good sign.” “This shows they’re getting special treatment,” Cohen said. “Normally, the Chinese do not give bail, certainly not this early in a case that they’re going to prosecute. … It usually is only given at the convenience of the police.” Though many of the details of this week’s incident remain unknown, Cohen said the possibility that the UCLA players could be imprisoned for 3-10 years, as reported by Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday, is “extremely unlikely.” He believes the players will most likely be fined, which would both validate the Chinese legal system but also not interfere with U.S.-China relations. Donald Clarke, a law professor at George Washington University, said he also believes the players will probably not face severe punishment. “On the basis of what I know, I think the most likely outcome is that the players get sent home with a stern warning, but without serving a formal sentence of detention,” Clarke wrote in an e-mail. “They are already confined to their hotel. Perhaps the authorities will count that as a kind of time served.” Cohen said the police are “the critical factor” in the Chinese legal process, which is one of the many ways in which the Chinese system differs from the American criminal justice system.
LiAngelo Ball, other UCLA players unlikely to face severe punishment, Chinese law experts say
USA Today | Nov 9