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Jameis Winston Caught Shoplifting Crab Legs, Crawfish: Sheriff

By William Peacock, Esq. on May 01, 2014 9:30 AM

$32.72. College athletes aren't paid, at least not yet, but surely Jameis Winston could've afforded $32.72 worth of crab legs and crawfish?

Winston, the Heisman Trophy winner and Florida State University quarterback, ran into more legal trouble Tuesday night, when he reportedly shoplifted a little more than $32 worth of food from a local supermarket, reports USA Today. Store employees contacted law enforcement who met Winston at his residence; the quarterback claimed that he "forgot" to pay, but admitted to taking the food.

For many, petty theft would lead to an arrest, but luckily for Winston, he was given a civil citation as part of a diversion program. What does that mean for Winston?

Diversion Programs Increasingly Common

In recent years, diversion programs have increased in popularity, in part because of jail overcrowding, and in part because of an increased feeling that not all crimes are serious enough to warrant a criminal record. Often, the diversion program will happen formally, through the prosecutor and the court. But in Tallahassee, Florida, local law enforcement agencies have recently adopted a pre-arrest civil citation system.

Instead of an arrest, charges, and a deal with prosecutors, officers have the discretion to give a civil citation (akin to a ticket) to an offender, who is then required to complete a minimal amount of community service. For Winston, it'll be 20 hours.

If the offender completes the terms of the ticket without incident, then his or her record remains clean. Eligibility for Tallahassee's program is limited to nonviolent minor crimes and first-time offenders, reports ESPN.

The local sheriff explained this in a news conference Wednesday:

Extra-Legal Consequences

Winston may walk away from this shoplifting incident with only a slap on the wrist, but the consequences could go far beyond a ticket or community service.

For Winston, this incident, along with recent sexual assault allegations, will raise eyebrows in the NFL draft. Though he is undeniably talented, a Heisman Trophy winner, and a near-lock for the first round of next year's draft, some teams may be hesitant to draft him considering these two incidents, as well as two others, which may be seen as signs of a lack of maturity.

This is true, even though the sum total of all of his alleged misdeeds is a single citation. (Winston has also been suspended indefinitely from Florida State's baseball team, where he was a preseason All-American, reports ESPN.)

Extra-legal consequences are also a reality for those of us who aren't destined for NFL greatness. A revoked or suspended driver's license from a DUI or a criminal record that hasn't been expunged (removed from one's record by court order) could give employers pause, even if the offense is minor and carried little to no criminal penalties.

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