San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith pleaded no contest Wednesday to three felony counts of illegal possession of assault weapons and two misdemeanor DUI counts, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office.
Deputy DA Brian Buckelew also disclosed Smith pleaded no contest to another count regarding a license plate switch on the vehicle he was driving during the DUI.
“We charged Mr. Smith for the crimes that he committed,” Santa Clara County DA Jeff Rosen said in a statement. “Mr. Smith has now accepted responsibility for his crimes and has pleaded to all of the charges.’’
A “no contest” plea is not an admission of guilt. Judge Daniel Nishigaya is expected to sentence Smith on July 25 – two days after the 49ers are scheduled to open training camp in Santa Clara.
Smith faces anywhere from probation to four years and four months in jail.
“Aldon has never wavered from his commitment to do the right thing in this case,” said Joshua Bentley, Smith’s attorney, in a statement. “Today’s court appearance was an essential and critical step in moving the case forward.
“Aldon has accepted and continues to accept responsibility for his actions. We are looking forward to the next court appearance and are confident that the Court will reach an appropriate sentence.”
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Smith continues to take part in the 49ers' offseason program.
"We are aware that Aldon entered a plea today in a case that we have closely monitored,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement. “Today was an important step towards bringing that situation to a resolution.”
Smith, 24, is one of the top pass-rushers in the NFL. He has recorded 42 career sacks in 43 games after the 49ers selected him with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2011 draft. The 49ers picked up a fifth-year option on Smith's contract at $9.754 million for the 2015 season on May 3.
“The 49ers have supported me,” Smith told CSNBayArea.com last week. “As you can see, the option got picked up. And if I was a thug or something, I don’t think they’d take those chances.”
Smith has experienced several problems off the field, including one unresolved issue from an incident at Los Angeles International Airport.
The Los Angeles City Attorney’s office is still weighing whether to formally charge Smith for a misdemeanor of making a false report of a bomb threat, stemming from an April 13 incident at Los Angeles International Airport.
LAX Police indicated that Smith indicated to a TSA agent that he had a bomb after going through screening. CSNBayArea.com previously reported Smith told the 49ers, according to a source, he never said the word “bomb.”
The gun charges surfaced a 2012 party at Smith’s residence in unincorporated San Jose that turned violent. Several gang members at the party became confrontational with other guests and an unknown person fired a handgun into Smith’s garage, according to the DA’s office.
Smith fired his own .45 handgun twice from his balcony to dissipate the crowd and a friend of Smith later fired the same gun several times in the air.
An unknown party guest shot and injured two partygoers, and Smith was later the victim of minor stab wounds.
Following the shooting, the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department searched Smith’s residence for evidence related to the assaults. As part of that search, Sheriff’s investigators recovered two rifles from Smith’s bedroom, including an Armalite AR10-T .308 caliber rifle.
In a second search, investigators recovered three additional firearms from Smith’s bedroom and closet, including a Bushmaster ACR rifle chambered for 5.56mm NATO and a Bushmaster Carbon-15 .223 caliber rifle, according to the DA’s office.
The DA’s office determined three of the assault rifles were illegal under California law. The investigation also revealed that Smith purchased the assault weapons in Arizona on two occasions in 2011.
The DUI charge stemmed from his arrest on September 20 in San Jose. Smith lost control of his truck and struck a tree. His blood-alcohol level was almost twice the legal limit, according to the DA’s office. His no contest pleas were to basic DUI, as well as a separate count for driving with a blood-alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit.
Smith played every defensive snap for the 49ers two days later against the Indianapolis Colts, but then took a voluntary leave of absence to enter into treatment for substance abuse. Smith missed five games.