Aldon Smith, San Francisco 49ers’ troubled linebacker, is out on $75,000 bond after turning himself in to Santa Clara police on Tuesday. Smith checked out of rehab in order to fulfill an arrangement he made with Jeff Rosen, the Santa Clara County District Attorney. Smith is charged with three felony counts of illegal possession of assault weapons. The charges were brought on October 9th while Smith was in a substance abuse facility after a second DUI arrest in September.
Smith reportedly turned himself in and almost immediately posted bail on Tuesday evening. It is not clear whether or not he returned to rehab, but he was at the 49ers’ training facility on Wednesday. Coach Jim Harbaugh said he was pleased to see Smith and his teammates reactions to his presence. “He looks great,” Harbaugh said of Smith, and stated in a radio interview that Smith has “made quite a bit of progress.”
General Manager Trent Baalke has said Smith will have to show progress if he wants to be welcomed back to the field this season. Harbaugh has been keeping in touch with Smith, who was on voluntary indefinite leave from the team while he dealt with his legal issues and rehab. Coach and player apparently exchange text messages regularly, and Harbaugh appears pleased with what he’s seeing.
If Smith is doing as well as indicated, and is getting close to putting his troubles behind him, he may be able to rejoin the 49ers as soon as the Monday following a bye and possibly play on Nov. 10 when the Carolina Panthers visit San Francisco. NFL Network reports that Smith has been activated on the 49ers roster as of today, so his return appears imminent, if not permanent. Smith was placed on the non-football injury list on Sept. 23, three days after his most recent DUI arrest. According to NFL rule, Smith was on the non-football injury list for an “illness” but once he appeared at the facility the 49ers could no longer keep him inactive in that capacity.
At 24-years old, Smith’s current charges stem from a June 2012 house party he hosted where he fired a gun to disperse a crowd of partygoers who were fighting with gang members. Somewhere along the way, Smith was stabbed and two others attending the party were shot.
Police found a stash of assault weapons, magazines, and ammunition, but did not uncover all the items in just one search. Questions have been asked as to why it took more than one sweep to find all the illegal items, and Sherriff Laurie Smith stated Smith was considered a victim at the time of the search.
Allegations of preferential treatment persist, however, as Smith and other 49ers were invited to ride in a department helicopter and allowed to fire weapons at the department shooting range. Inquiries also make reference to the speed of Smith’s release when he was arrested Oct. 20 on DUI charges. It has been pointed out that the average drunk driver does not get back on the streets as quickly as Smith managed.
Appearances of improper allowances aside, Smith is expected back in court Nov. 12 and Nov. 19 on DUI and weapons charges. Smith could face anything from probation to about four years in prison if he is found guilty of the charges. The weapons were reportedly purchased in Arizona before being transported to Aldon’s home in California. The weapons are banned in California.
The NFL is expected to impose sanctions that could include suspension. Typically, the league allows a player to settle any legal issues before imposing penalties. Whatever happens to Smith, his troubles are far from over. It is hoped that his time away from the NFL will help him gain perspective and maturity. Whether he accepts it or not, he is a role model for young athletes, and his behavior has been far from exemplary.
By Brandi Tasby