Minnesota’s Trevor Mbakwe has done a lot of dumb things during his college career.
Sending a facebook message to an ex-girlfriend that has an active no-contact order against him? That’s dumb. Really freakin’ dumb. Getting behind the wheel of a car after drinking? That’s even dumber.
But that doesn’t make Mbakwe a criminal deserving of jail time. It hardly makes him a bad person more than a college kid that needs to make a serious improvement in his decision making skills.
Unfortunately for Mbakwe, those two incidents could very well land him in jail down in Florida.
Back in April 2009, Mbakwe was arrested for assaulting a woman in Miami while he attended Miami-Dade Community College. He wasn’t initially convicted of the crime, and it very well could have been a case of mistaken identity, like Mbakwe claimed. 16 months passed and Mbakwe was forced to fit out an entire season of hoops at Minnesota while dealing with the charges. In August of 2010, without enough evidence available to convict him, Mbakwe agreed to a six-month pretrial program that burdened him with some community service hours and a fine, but was not in anyway an admission of guilt as much as it was an attempt to get on with his life and continue his basketball career.
But it was in January of 2011, not even the full six months after he agreed to the pretrial program, that Mbakwe sent that fateful facebook message and got arrested. The result? Getting booted from the program and, eventually, a no contest plea in the Florida case this past February. To spare you the legalese, what that means is that Mbakwe was found guilty of a felony battery charge, but he was not convicted and did not admit guilt. Yes, that is possible.
He was given probation as part of his sentence, which he violated when he got the DUI in July. That’s why he is currently in Florida, awaiting a decision on whether or not he’s headed to jail. Amelia Rayno of the Star-Tribune dug up what could happen during Friday’s hearing after talking to a Miami attorney familiar with the laws and the judge in this case:
Mait said Florida uses a point system to determine minimum sentence guidelines, and based on the points Mbakwe has accumulated for his offenses he could be in for a long prison sentence.
But according to Mait, this scenario is more likely: Samms will approach the prosecutor ahead of Friday’s hearing and try to work out a deal to present to the judge. This could include an alternative to jail time, such as community control (house arrest). Or it could include a modification of the probation itself, to include, for example a 30-day jail sentence (30 days being an arbitrary length).
“Generally, as long as the state’s (prosecutor) offer is a reasonable offer, the judge is going to go with whatever the state’s OK with,” Mait said.
The next question is how this will affect Mbakwe’s status on the team, but that’s another post for another day. Safe to say, Minnesota likely wouldn’t be too thrilled if Mbakwe had to spend time in jail. (Although they did say his status would be unchanged if he only received more probation.)
What has to be frustrating about all of this for Mbakwe is that it all stems from an incident that he has always claimed was misidentification. If he wasn’t faced with potentially missing the start of a second basketball season back in August of 2010, he may never have accepted any kind of punishment from that initial court case. And if he never agreed to a pretrial program, than a facebook message and a DUI wouldn’t have been anything more than a wake-up call.
Instead, Mbakwe might end up being sentenced to serve jail time on Friday.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.