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What Happens When A Football Player Is Arrested?

Criminal Attorney Timothy Jansen Explains The Process To The Media

Sports fans and non-sports fans alike have asked the question “What happens between the time a football player is arrested and the time their case is resolved?” There is often a mysterious lull between the hyped-up news coverage about the player’s arrest and the time their case concludes and life returns to normal. Many people what to know what process occurs during that lull.

Attorney Timothy Jansen was recently featured in an enlightening article on Sports Illustrated’s Campus Rush titled “What Happens When a Player Gets Arrested? A Look into How the Legal Process Plays Out.” In the article, the author uses information gathered from Jansen to paint a word-picture of the criminal process that occurs between a football player’s arrest and the conclusion of their case, using Jansen as the imaginary criminal defense attorney. Considering Jansen is a contract adviser for the NFL Players Association, the scenario could almost be real.

The article explains a hypothetical football player’s criminal process as follows.

The Arrest

In the hypothetical situation created by the author, a fourth-year junior at “Tech U” is arrested for possessing a stolen laptop, which he claims to have bought from a man selling them out of his trunk. Defense attorney Jansen (again, hypothetically) receives a call from the player’s coach telling him that the player’s mother will be calling soon. Jansen starts driving to the police station.

On the way, Jansen takes the call from the player’s hysterical mother and explains his retainer and attorney fees. He takes the retainer payment via credit card over the phone and is now ready to defend his client.

Walking into the police station, Jansen meets his client and counsels him to stop talking to police. Jansen then requests a private conference with the client and asks two questions:

  • What were you charged with?
  • What have you told them?

After speaking privately with his client, Jansen then questions the police, asking two questions:

  • What do you have?
  • What has he told you?

At this point, Attorney Jansen considers any alleged evidence mentioned by the police and weighs his client’s defense options. He then updates the player’s mother on the situation.

The Next Day Or Two

During the off-season, Jansen would have time to build a defense or work on a plea bargain. In this particular scenario, however, the season opener is days away. Jansen’s client is charged with a felony and the player has been suspended from all Tech U games and practices and from the school’s weight room while the charges exist.

The defendant makes bail the following day and Jansen interviews him thoroughly. He discovers that his client lied about the man selling laptops out of his trunk. Jansen also knows that police have surveillance video of the defendant leaving the apartment from which the laptop was stolen with what appeared to be a laptop in his possession.

Jansen never asks “Did you do it?” because, if the client openly admits to the crime and then goes before a jury and denies it, then Jansen would be supporting perjury.

While all this is happening, Jansen is fielding calls from reporters and beat writers. His advice is “The only bad response is no response.” He tells reporters that the defendant has retained his services and all communication must therefore go through him” in an attempt to keep reporters from trying to speak to the defendant.

The Next Week Or Few Weeks

Now, Jansen must deal with the prosecutor’s office and the court, either moving toward trial or working to negotiate a deal. Jansen explains that most cases do not go to trial, but rather end with a deal that the defendant can live with.

Jansen investigates the prosecutors and judges thoroughly, looking up their schedules and studying how they treat defendants, in order to determine how best to resolve the case as quickly as possible. He works with the prosecution until they agree on a plea deal, or the prosecution drops the charges altogether.

This process can take less than a week or several weeks depending on what is involved. Does the client have an existing criminal record? Is he a good student? Has he support charities? Any information that can prove the case was an isolated incident will be gathered and presented to the prosecution. A plea bargain will then be negotiated. Jansen will often ask that the punishment be served at a time that still allows the football player to be play as much of the season as possible. He will also present a plea minimizing the charges to something that doesn’t look bad for someone trying to make it to the NFL.

Once the prosecution agrees to a deal, the defendant must appear before a judge to enter his plea. He will miss a game for each week it takes to get to court. In court, the prosecution will read a narrative of the case. The judge will then ask the defendant if he understands the conditions of his sentence. Once the football player responds “Yes,” he is free to go.

The Aftermath

The football player will usually be suspended by his coach for a number of weeks — usually until the first big game against a major school. After the player has a successful season, he may even decide to hire Jansen as his agent to help him prove to the NCAA that his criminal charge — which affects his draft status — was a one-time thing. Jansen encourages his client to respond to all inquiries with an honest response that accepts responsibility but is still professional. Jansen also helps his client on the public relations side of things, assisting him in boosting his image. After that, it’s up to the football player to prove himself and live down his old criminal charge.

Timothy Jansen is a founding attorney at Jansen & Davis, P.A., in Tallahassee, Florida. He is a seasoned criminal attorney who is recognized by peers and clients alike for his ethics, demeanor, and skill. Call today at 850-641-8739 for a free consultation if you need a Tallahassee criminal lawyer.