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Buffalo Bills defensive lineman Marcell Dareus was arrested Monday on charges of drug possession.
The 24-year-old Pro Bowl athlete was arrested in Alabama on drug charges after state troopers stopped him for speeding, reports ESPN. Dareus was also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.
What do these drug charges mean for Dareus?
Felony Charge After Traffic Stop
Although Alabama State Troopers released a statement that Dareus was stopped for speeding, he was charged with possession of a controlled substance, which is a felony in Alabama. Under Alabama law, controlled substances include marijuana and even "synthetic marijuana" aka "spice."
If an officer has reasonable suspicion to believe that a driver has committed a traffic offense (e.g., speeding) it is legal for the officer to pull that driver over and investigate. While the driver is pulled over, if the officer has probable cause to believe another crime has been committed, the driver may be legally searched and/or arrested.
The Alabama troopers who pulled Dareus over may have spotted a pipe or other drug paraphernalia in plain view within his vehicle, leading them to search and discover some quantity of illegal drugs. Simply possessing a bong or ceramic pipe with intent to use it for smoking a controlled substance is its own crime in Alabama. The drug paraphernalia charge is only a misdemeanor, but it could still mean jail time for the Buffalo Bills player.
An experienced defense attorney may argue for Dareus that the arrest was not based on probable cause, in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. However, without more details, it is impossible to speculate on Dareus' chances in court.
Playing This Season?
Dareus is currently out of custody and may be eligible to play for the Buffalo Bills, as long as the team allows it. A Bills spokesman told ESPN that the team only knows "what we have seen in media reports, and we will continue to look into this."
Outside of criminal investigations, the NFL and its teams often conduct their own investigations to determine if a player has violated any terms of their contract by their actions. Sometimes this leads to a team member being suspended, although players may have the right to appeal that suspension.
ESPN reports that Dareus has had some issues with violating his team's rules in the past, leading to him not starting in at least two games. Dareus' contract with the Bills has already been extended until 2015.