The Georgia Bulldogs are the newest SEC champions! While Auburn players cried themselves to sleep Saturday night, Georgia players Natrez Patrick and Jayson Stanley celebrated their victory. They celebrated so hard, in fact, that they attracted the attention of the Barrow County Sheriff’s Department (BCSD). The party ended with their arrest.
BCSD pulled Stanley over for driving more than 20 mph over the speed limit in Barrow County Georgia. The smell of marijuana tipped the Sheriff’s Deputy off to the fact that the young men enjoyed more than the fast car.
A Sheriff’s Deputy arrested Stanley for speeding, DUI, and misdemeanor possession of marijuana. The BCSD also arrested Patrick for misdemeanor marijuana possession.
Now, instead of relaxing and enjoying the victory, Georgia coaches are fielding questions about the two arrested players.
Three strikes and you’re out?
The UGA athletic association’s handbook lays out strict punishment for student-athletes arrested on drug charges. The first drug arrest calls for a one-game suspension. The second drug arrest calls for a multi-game suspension. But the third arrest calls for dismissal from the team.
Of course, the coach isn’t ready to fill Patrick’s spot just yet. As of yesterday, Coach Smart said “we don’t have all the information.” He also stated that both players will face “internal” discipline.
Stanley could also face dismissal from the team because he was arrested for a DUI. UGA treats DUI arrests the same way it treats felony arrests. This arrest calls for immediate suspension from the team. A committee determines his fate from there. The committee can recommend any punishment it sees fit (including suspension from playing, removal from the team, and/or reduction in scholarship money). The athletic director must approve the committees decision before it is enforced.
What legal consequences to the players face?
The BCSD charged Patrick with misdemeanor marijuana possession. Persons charged with misdemeanor possession are caught with less than one ounce of marijuana. Possession of any more than an ounce is a felony.
The punishment for this charge is up to one year in jail, $1000 fine, or some combination of both. Because this is an “up to” punishment statute, the judge can hand out any punishment up to the max that he or she sees fit.
The BCSD charged Stanley with 3 crimes. Unless the State drops some of the charges, or offers him a plea agreement, he faces significantly more punishment than Patrick.
You can find the Georgia DUI statute here.