Brittney Griner pleaded guilty to drug charges in Russian court Thursday, the Associated Press reports. The American professional basketball player, who has been in detention since February after hashish cartridges were found in her luggage at a Russian airport, faces up to 10 years in prison. Griner told the court Thursday that she was guilty of large-scale transportation of drugs but did not intend to break the law. She will next appear in court on July 14, the Associated Press reports.
While it might seem like the plea was a loss for Griner’s case, Northeastern experts say this was likely a strategic move that could get her home sooner. “Her pleading guilty may actually hasten the ability to negotiate a way for her out of Russia,” says Alexandra Meise, an associate teaching professor in the School of Law at Northeastern. “A trial would have taken some length of time, and potentially not an insubstantial length of time,” she says. “The fact that she has pleaded guilty makes it very likely that sentencing will come in short order.” The U.S. and Russia will likely negotiate from there, Meise says.