El DeBarge, the Grammy-nominated singer who scored a hit with "Rhythm of the Night" in 1985, was arrested in connection with a drug deal in the rhythm of broad daylight, police said.
DeBarge, 50, whose real name is Eldra Patrick DeBarge, was busted by undercover cops near a freeway interchange in Los Angeles' Encino neighborhood, an LAPD spokeswoman told the Los Angeles Times.
Officers observed DeBarge and another man taking part in an apparent drug deal about 2 p.m. Monday, gossip website TMZ reports. Police also found illegal drugs in the area where DeBarge was standing, though they did not disclose what kind of drugs were found.
El DeBarge was arrested in connection with drug possession with intent to sell, according to the LAPD. That's a felony in California, punishable by up to three years in jail.
The possession element of the crime can be fulfilled in several ways: Actual possession means the drugs were found on the person; constructive possession means a person had access to the drugs and control over the drugs; and joint possession means two or more people had access to, and control over, the drugs. It's not clear what kind of possession El DeBarge was arrested for.
There are some defenses to a drug-possession charge: A defendant can try to argue the drugs belonged to someone else, or that he did not intend to sell the drugs. The quantity of drugs, and how they were packaged, may be factors in distinguishing personal use from intent to sell.
Following El DeBarge's arrest, he was booked at a jail and released on $30,000 bond, TMZ reports. The singer, who has spoken publicly about his drug-addiction problems in the past, faces a court date in April.
March 23, 2012 Editor's note: After reviewing the case, prosecutors declined to file charges against El DeBarge because of insufficient evidence.