San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith was charged Wednesday with three felony counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon in a case stemming from a party at his home in June 2012.
The Santa Clara County district attorney’s office said the 24-year-old is expected to surrender later this month. He is on an indefinite leave of absence from the defending NFC champion 49ers while undergoing treatment for substance abuse at an in-patient facility following a DUI arrest Sept. 20.
“We’ve been aware of the incident, the serious nature of it. We’re all accountable for our actions, good and bad,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said Wednesday. “There’s a process, due process, that will take place. I don’t feel any need to comment further on it.”
When asked whether Smith — who set a franchise record with 19.5 sacks last season — would play again this season, Harbaugh said only, “I don’t have any need to further comment on it.”
If convicted, Smith could face up to four years and four months in jail, the district attorney’s office said. Smith also is likely to face a suspension from the NFL, perhaps pushed back to next season or after his legal issues are resolved.
Last month, Smith and former teammate Delanie Walker were named in a lawsuit filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court by a Northern California man who said he was shot at a party at Smith’s house on June 29, 2012. The players charged a $10 admission and $5 per drink, the lawsuit said. Smith and now-Tennessee Titans tight end Walker, 29, were allegedly intoxicated when they fired gunshots into the air off a balcony while trying to end the party, the lawsuit said.
Walker will not be charged, deputy district attorney Brian Buckelew told The (Nashville) Tennessean.
“Delanie Walker did not shoot one of the assault weapons. Delanie Walker did shoot a handgun, and that was after gang members had already started shooting at Aldon’s garage,” Buckelew told the newspaper. “So the purpose of Delanie Walker shooting up in the air was to try and get the gang members out of there. It could be viewed as self-defense, or a reasonable means to try and dissipate a crazy situation.”
Smith played in a 27-7 home loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sept. 22 and had five tackles just two days after he was arrested and jailed on suspicion of DUI. Smith apologized for his behavior after the game.