A reserve point guard on the UCLA basketball team was arrested earlier this week on suspicion of stealing a laptop computer valued at $1,541. He has been charged with grand theft and released on $20,000 bail.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the laptop in question, a MacBook Pro, contained a tracking device, which allowed its owner to lead campus police to the basketball player. Evidence obtained through such relatively new technology, however, may prove difficult to use in court, especially when it was operated by a private citizen.

Earlier this year, for example, several people attempted to defend themselves from traffic tickets using data from the smart phone app “Google My Tracks,” which keeps a record of the phone user’s travels, including their speed. Some were able to introduce the “Google My Tracks” evidence into court, but others were not.

While the grand theft charges are pending, the player has been suspended for at least some games, including the Bruins’ season opener, and has been barred from all team activities. The team plans to reevaluate his status as the criminal justice process unfolds.

Even though people are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, many organizations choose to impose penalties on the accused merely because of the accusation against them. As is commonly the case, UCLA’s athletics department has decided to use the school’s code of conduct to impose penalties on the player even though he has not been proven guilty of anything.

“We have a high standard and code of conduct that our student-athletes are expected to follow,” said his coach in a statement. “He knows that he has made a huge mistake and that he has not represented himself, our program or UCLA in a manner that is required.”

At least one fellow player was more forgiving. He posted the following Tweet on his Twitter feed: “I pray no UCLA fans talk bad about [the accused]. Only 1 person never made any mistakes. … So nobody point fingers unless your hands are clean.”

If you should ever be accused of theft, you should know that the condemnation and negative consequences are likely to begin long before you ever appear before a jury. To protect your rights and your reputation, get good legal advice as soon as possible.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “UCLA’s Jerime Anderson arrested for alleged computer theft,” Ben Bolch, July 27, 2011