Lightning's Malone faces charges for cocaine possession

Ryan Malone of the Tampa Bay Lightning, as our Tampa readers may have already heard, is currently in the midst of a criminal case involving charges of drunk-driving and cocaine possession. Those charges, to which Malone has pleaded not guilty, stem from an April 12 arrest in Tampa. According to officers who made the arrest, Malone blew readings of 0.112 and 0.116 on a Breathalyzer test.

The drug charges carry the potential of serious time behind bars: the drug charge carrying a maximum penalty of five years and the DUI charge carrying up to six months. In addition to these consequences, the incident has put Malone's status with the Tampa Bay Lightning up in the air, with him now a potential buyout candidate. Apparently Malone and his agent have chosen not to make any comment with respect to this issue.

Sources did not detail why Malone chose to plead not guilty to the charges, but criminal defendants may choose to plead not guilty for a variety of reasons. In some cases, of course, a not guilty plea is appropriate because the charges are false and the defendant is not guilty. In other cases, a defendant may plead not guilty because the charges, while not without foundation, are not accurate or are not supported by the evidence.

Criminal defendants always have the right to determine how they will plea to criminal charges. Obviously, working with an experienced defense attorney is critical to building a strong case and coming up with a good strategy, but it is always up to the defendant to decide how to plea.

Source: Tampabay.com, "Malone enters written not guilty plea," June 16, 2014.

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