In an appearance on ABC's "Good Morning America," the attorney for the suspects, Joe McCulloch, said Richland County (South Carolina) Sheriff Leon Lott is being overzealous.
"It is a fascination if not an effort to destroy a public hero," McCulloch said. "He's the sheriff, not the Terminator!"
ABC reported that officials have recently executed search warrants at two private homes in Columbia, S.C., and arrested eight people for marijuana possession in connection with an investigation into the photo of Phelps holding a bong to his mouth.
"This is ridiculous. This is about college kids smoking pot and in no way justifies 12 officers entering a house with guns drawn to terrorize college kids," said attorney Dick Harpootlian, who is representing another suspect.
The suspects each face up to 30 days in jail and a $200 fine if convicted.