The first hand shot up. “What are the laws about having a firearm in your car?”
Then another. “If you refuse a field sobriety test, doesn’t your license get suspended?”
A question from the other side of the room: “Do you have to call the cops if you get into an accident and someone is injured?”
Attorneys Benson Varghese and Ty Stimpson fielded these questions and more from TCU football players Wednesday morning after speaking to the team about staying on the right side of the law. TCU officials invited Varghese Summersett to come and talk to the team about mistakes that can potentially lead to legal trouble and the consequences of an arrest.
“You have to be more careful than the average Joe,” Varghese told about 100 players, which were gathered in the team room of the indoor practice facility on TCU’s campus. “You have a lot more at stake.”
Varghese, a Board Certified Criminal Lawyer, discussed a wide variety of topics that he has seen first-hand from collegiate and professional athletes, including drug possession, intoxication offenses, gun crimes, and sexual assault allegations.
Varghese said one of the purposes of the talk was to make sure the players understand the law and their rights if they’re ever stopped or investigated by police. For example, he told them that they don’t have to consent to a field sobriety test, which are intentionally difficult to pass, just because the police ask.
“If they ask you to do a field sobriety test, you can politely decline,” Varghese said. “Put it on me. You can say, ‘Hey an attorney came and talked to the team and recommended I don’t do these tests. Sorry, I can’t.'”
Stimpson, who heads up the personal injury division of the firm, took a moment to talk to the team about how he was once in their shoes. A former linebacker at Baylor University, he said student-athletes often have “bullseyes on their backs.”
“There are a lot of people who cheer for you on Saturdays, but there are also a handful of people who want to see you fail,” Stimpson said. “That is why it’s important to be cognizant of your surroundings and appreciate the opportunities that are presented to you each and every day.”
Afterward, Varghese and Stimpson opened the floor for questions, which ran the gamut. They discussed everything from the legality of having bullets in a vehicle to steps to starting a law firm. They were open to any and all questions by the athletes.
The meeting closed with both attorneys emphasizing the importance of making smart choices and avoiding situations and circumstances that could lead to potential legal trouble.
“You guys are already public figures,” Varghese said. “People are going to be paying attention to you. I hope you’ll never need us – that is a true sentiment.”