Football / Sports

Aldon Smith of 49ers avoids jail — unless he screws up

SAN JOSE -- A judge Friday put star 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith on probation for three years, and ordered him to do 11 days on a work crew and pay a $2,000 fine for a combination of drunken driving and assault-weapons charges.

But if the football star violates any of the conditions of probation -- including those that prohibit him from drinking any alcohol or possessing any guns or ammunition for three years -- he will wind up in jail for 11 days.

The sentence came after Smith pleaded no-contest in May to misdemeanor drunken driving and three felony counts of possessing illegal assault rifles. Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Daniel Nishigaya reduced the weapons charges Friday to misdemeanors, noting Smith has no criminal record involving violence.

Under the judge's order, Smith may complete the work crew requirement on consecutive Mondays starting July 28. The judge also indicated he would be willing to allow Smith to change that schedule if he gives the court notice.

Many defendants who are convicted of misdemeanor DUI for the first time and have no prior criminal record get the following in Santa Clara County: about five days of weekend work, typically picking up garbage off the side of a freeway; mandatory classes on the risks of drunken driving; and probation, including the condition that they cannot drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in them, even if they are not legally drunk.

Smith faced a maximum sentence of four years and four months in jail for three felony counts of possessing assault rifles. But legal experts said it would not be unusual given his lack of a criminal record if the judge knocked them down to misdemeanors, imposed a shorter, suspended jail sentence and put him on probation, as well as assigned him weekend work. Smith was arrested in Miami once on suspicion of drunken driving, but that incident was knocked down to an infraction.

Smith had been scheduled for sentencing July 25, but the District Attorney's Office requested that the sentencing be moved up because of a family emergency with the prosecutor.

Smith also could be facing discipline from the NFL for his off-field incidents. He's allowed to report to training camp when 49ers report Wednesday.

In mid-April, Smith was arrested on suspicion of making a false bomb threat at Los Angeles airport. But prosecutors declined to charge him.

Smith, 24, has kept a positive profile in public lately. He's done community work with the Boys & Girls Club, headlined a charity basketball game between 49ers and Raiders (he only played in the final minute) and he attended Saturday's flag-football game at Candlestick between former 49ers and other NFL legends.

(c)2014 San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)

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