[artist id="510062"]Lil Wayne[/artist] has been on a hot streak lately. His Tha Carter III was 2008's best-selling album, he recently picked up [article id="1604580"]Best Rap Album at the Grammys[/article], and he's been playing to packed houses from coast to coast.
But his winning streak could come to an abrupt halt after a ruling on Tuesday in a New York courtroom. According to Reuters, a judge ruled that the rapper (born Dwayne Carter), will face gun-possession charges at a trial scheduled to begin on April 20 that could potentially send the rapper to prison for up to 15 years.
Police searched [article id="1565299"]Wayne's tour bus in July 2007[/article], after allegedly smelling marijuana smoke coming from the MC's home away from home, following his New York debut at the Beacon Theatre. Prosecutors say that he was found trying to conceal a .40-caliber gun that was found on the bus, leading to one count of criminal weapons possession and one charge of criminal possession of a loaded weapon. (In an unrelated incident, [article id="1565325"]Ja Rule was arrested[/article] on similar charges after performing on the same bill with Wayne that night; that case is still pending as well.)
[article id="1565462"]Wayne's lawyer, Stacey Richman[/article], told MTV shortly after the arrest that the rapper was not in possession of a weapon that night. Richman again argued Tuesday that the handgun should not be admitted as evidence in the case, because, she claims, the arresting officer had no legal reason to be on the bus and had made up the marijuana excuse. She could not be reached for comment on the judge's ruling at press time.
Wayne appeared in court for the hearing on Tuesday, wearing a black leather jacket, jeans and black-rimmed glasses, and blew kisses to fans who greeted him outside the courtroom. Reuters reported that New York State Supreme Court Judge Charles Solomon ordered jury selection as soon as Wayne completes his current tour, which is slated to wrap on April 12.
E! Online speculated that Wayne, 26, likely decided to push back the release of his anticipated rock album, [article id="1605400"]Rebirth from April 7 to May 19[/article] because of the pending trial. The rapper remains free on $70,000 bail in the case.