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Knicks' J.R. Smith Arrested on Warrant in South Beach

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on May 25, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith was arrested in Miami Beach, Fla., on Thursday night in what cops characterize as a slam-dunk case that dates back to 2011.

Police stopped Smith, 26, in South Beach about 8:30 p.m., ESPN reports. Officers say they recognized the NBA star's famous face, and knew they had a bench warrant for his arrest.

Smith spent the night in the Miami-Dade County jail and posted bond early Friday for the warrant that apparently stems from an incident a year ago.

The Knicks' J.R. Smith, arrested and booked under his legal name of Earl Joseph Smith, was pulled over in Miami last year for driving a scooter without a valid license, the New York Post reports. Somehow, that citation led a judge to issue a bench warrant in the case.

A bench warrant is a judge's order to arrest a person, and is commonly issued in three circumstances:

  • When a person willfully disregards or disobeys a court's order or authority and is held in contempt, such as for failing to appear in court;
  • When an indictment is handed down; or
  • When a witness disobeys a subpoena to appear in court to testify in a case.

The first reason seems to be the most likely in J.R. Smith's arrest, as news reports do not explain why the warrant was issued.

As for the original charge of driving a scooter without a valid license, that could be because Florida law requires most scooter drivers to have a certain type of driver license, and even a motorcycle endorsement if a scooter is of a certain size.

Driving without a valid license could also stem from having a revoked or suspended license. But again, news reports do not clearly explain the circumstances surrounding Smith's 2011 citation.

Unfortunately, traffic citations are nothing new for the Knicks' J.R. Smith. He crashed a car with teammate Carmelo Anthony in the passenger's seat in 2007, and was involved in a fatal crash that same year, according to the Bleacher Report. Smith spent 24 days in jail for reckless driving in 2009.

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