By Thomas A. Harden
T.I.’s arrest for alleged possession of a controlled substance, sent shock waves across the hip-hop community.
According to reports from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Tip and Tiny’s Maybach was stopped at 10:30pm Wednesday, on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, by deputies who smelled marijuana emitting from the vehicle. After an investigation both the embattled rapper and his wife were charged of felony possession of a controlled substance and were each released on $10,000 bail, Thursday morning (September 2).
The arrest stands as T.I.’s fifth offense with the law, and latest, after he was released from prison earlier this year stemming from illegal weapon charges.
With this latest interruption to T.I.’s stellar career, which saw the rapper celebrate the #1 debut of his film “Takers” last weekend, many critics and fans alike have responded in support and outrage of the news. We spoke with some of Tip’s main supporters, fans and experts to gauge their reactions of his arrest.
“My initial reaction was disbelief,” said Toshitaka Kondo, Senior Editor of Complex Magazine who wrote the Aug/Sept cover story on Tip. “I mean it’s tough that he just got released and now he’s being charged with another felony. I think that there will be pressure on the DA to not be lenient with him because they already cut a deal with T.I. for the gun charges. But, it’s very hard to judge until the facts come out with this. It really might be nothing. I hope it turns out okay for him.”
“T.I.’s hot right now. But, not in a good way,” expressed DJ S&S, of Sirius Satellite Radio. “He just beat a long bid and to go to L.A., where you know the police out there do a lot of racial profiling, they say any artist or any car that they can not see into, they’re going to pull it over– white or black. If they found marijuana in the car that means it was being used. Unless, they test they’re urine in the investigation. If not, he’s going to beat this!”
“T.I. is obviously a smart, talented and savvy individual. His success at music, acting and all of his other various endeavors is a testament to that. But the incident last night was obviously an example of piss poor judgment,” Alvin aqua Blanco, hip-hop journalist told MTV News’ RapFix. “You just got out of jail on federal gun charges so of course you’re going to be under extreme scrutiny from law enforcement. The last place he should have ever been was in a car, pulling an illegal U-turn, while puff-puff-passing with the wife no less, allegedly. Obviously his lawyers are thorough but they got their work cut out for them.”
Entertainment attorney, Noemi Pizzini-Neal, Esq. — who recently served on the defense counsel for Siquon Claton, of Ne-Yo’s Compound Entertainment and the perjury case for rapper Lil’ Kim -– states this latest charge might come with some server penalties for Tip.
“This is a major infraction because T.I.’s on probation, not because of the [controlled substance],” explained Pizzini-Neal, Esq. to MTV News. “The problem here is, he’s going to be charged with possession in California, but once he goes back to Georgia, he’s has to deal with the Federal Probation Department. Once you violate probation, they actually mandate that you do some time.”
“He got off before. He was lucky,” Pizzini-Neal, Esq., continues, “The judge who initially sentenced him was nice, and whoever is in charge of his case at the probation department– they’re not going to be so lenient. Now, he might sit in jail for 20 to 30 days.”
T.I. is schedule to be on probation until 2013 and according to attorney Pizzini-Neal, Esq. any violation of those terms could land the rapper/actor back in prison.
“I don’t know if 30 days is the maximum time because it depends on his probation officer. He/she has to recommend something to him now,” she, further explains. “I’m really unable to tell you for certain because there’s no federal guidelines for probation violations. It’s not a judge who decides, the probation department mandates it. He might do jail time and then be ordered to go to a program. Everyone that gets convicted for drug use has to attend a program. In New York State, it’s called the S.T.E.P. program, which is designed to get offenders clean. If he pleads guilty for possession, he’ll have to go through that in L.A. [Tiny] might do less time than [T.I.] or he just might say [the substance] was his, in which she would walk away with nothing, because she doesn’t have any priors.”
Some fans believe T.I.’s road to redemption has been steered off course with this infraction.
“I’m disappointed to see he’s back in the criminal lane, especially after his gun-charges,” Jemaine Buchanan wrote. “Even more so, since he was trying to help troubled youth before he went to jail.”
Leo Arias of New York City wrote, “I think it shows that once you reach a certain level of fame or wealth, you think you’re above the law.”
Currently, T.I.’s future is at the mercy of the Justice Department. The hip-hop royalty couple are due back in court on charges on September 3. There’s no telling how long the King will be uncaged.
“Right now, T.I.’s is not in position of power,” Pizzini-Neal, Esq. lamented, “He’s has to be at the liberty of the Los Angeles court and the liberty of the United States Department of Probation.”