Originally posted by @no1marauder
Giving a first time offender years in prison for shoplifting would be unduly harsh. Chinese law apparently does not mandate such a result:
The case could also be dropped to the lower “administration violation” rather than robbery, which would lessen any potential penalty including prison time, according to Jeremy Daum, an attorney and research fello ...[text shortened]... wrong with US government officials pleading with Chinese officials for leniency in this matter.
First of all, it's unclear what was allegedly stolen. Some American journalists have
assumed that it must have been, at most, one pair of sunglasses.
"[California] Penal Code 459.5 PC reads : “(a) . . [S]hoplifting is defined as entering a
commercial establishment with intent to commit larceny while that establishment is open
during regular business hours, where the value of the property that is taken or intended to
be taken does not exceed nine hundred fifty dollars ($950). Any other entry into a
commercial establishment with intent to commit larceny is burglary"
"In other words, shoplifting is entering an open business intending to commit the crime of petty theft."
If the stolen goods were worth more than 950 USD, then--under California law (the accused
attend UCLA)-- the crime should be regarded as burglary rather than shoplifting.
Some, though far from all, Americans seem to prefer a narrative of innocent African American
'kids' being eagerly framed by brutal corrupt Chinese police just for being Americans (or black).
Assuming there's enough video evidence of the thefts, the accused were not innocent.
1) The accused are not 'kids'. As far as I know, they all are at least 18 years old, legally adults in the USA.
2) The accused cannot pretend that they were ignorant that it's illegal to steal from shops in China.
And they cannot pretend that they were stealing food to feed their 'starving' families at home.
All of the accused have full scholarships to UCLA, which makes them more privileged than many Americans.
One of the accused comes from a now wealthy family (with a brother who's a budding star in the NBA).
3) The police originally detained several--more than three--American college athletes.
After questioning, the police released most of them on account of insufficient evidence.
This should be enough to show that the police were not out to frame as many Americans as possible.
4) Although the Chinese police may be inclined to deal harshly with some poor black
migrants from Africa, there's no evidence that this extends to celebrity African Americans.
Stephon Marbury, a black American basketball player, has become a popular hero in China.
He's adored by many Chinese, particular the fans of his former team in Beijing.
He even has said that he could envisage living happily in China for most of the rest of his life.
"It doesn’t have to be prison; there’s no requirement of that.”
What if the accused received sentences similar to what they would have received if they
had committed the same crimes in the USA and the President had not intervened on their behalf?
"I see nothing wrong with US government officials pleading with Chinese officials for leniency in this matter."
If the tables were turned, I doubt that China's President would ever plead with the US President
on behalf of a Chinese citizen accused of crimes in the USA. And if that happened, then
I expect that the overwhelming majority of American politicians, media, and people (presumably
including No1Marauder) would fiercely oppose any special treatment for that Chinese citizen.