On Thursday afternoon (March 27), T.I. pleaded guilty to several federal weapons charges, as part of a plea deal that could send the rapper to prison for a year.
U.S. District Judge Charles Pannell Jr. will first need to sign off on the plea bargain. When sentenced a year from now, the 27-year-old rapper (born Clifford Harris) could be ordered to perform 1,500 hours of community service, which he would serve by talking to youth groups across the U.S., and about 12 months behind bars.
In addition, T.I. could be sentenced to three years' supervised release, including a year of home detention. He could also be ordered to pay a $100,000 fine.
"While I'm not looking forward to being incarcerated, I have a long road of redemption to travel," T.I. told reporters outside the courtroom, according to The Associated Press. "I am dedicated and committed to that. I'm looking forward to turning this negative time in my life into a positive. I'd like to thank God for blessing me with a second chance in life and success. I realize I completely violated the law, and I take it very seriously."
According to the terms of the plea deal, T.I.'s prison term could be increased or reduced, depending on his fulfillment of its terms. The deal says T.I.'s message to the youth groups he'll speak to should focus on the pitfalls of guns, gangs and drugs.
Harris, who was dressed in a gray suit at the hearing, may face even stiffer prison time — several more years — if he finds himself in trouble with the law again.
T.I. was arrested back in October, mere hours before he was to headline the BET Hip-Hop Awards in Atlanta. The rapper was charged with possession of unregistered machine guns and silencers, and possession of firearms by a convicted felon. If he were found guilty without a plea bargain, he would face a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count. T.I. initially pleaded not guilty to the charges and has been under house arrest since his release on $3 million bond October 26. He was allowed to leave his house to attend church services on Easter Sunday.
[This story was originally published at 3:03 p.m. ET on 3.27.2008]