SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) --You might soon see San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith picking up litter off the street or from the highway. That's part of a sentence handed down Friday after he pleaded "no contest" to six felony charges for possession of assault weapons and drunk driving.
ABC7 News was in the courtroom when Smith stood up and apologized to the judge. It seems this is probably best-case scenario for him.
It was a rare sight seeing an NFL player saying he was sorry, but that might have swayed the judge to reduce charges filed as felonies to misdemeanors.
Smith showed up at the courthouse with full knowledge he might be spending over four years in prison. He had already pleaded no contest to charges of possession of assault weapons and drunk driving.
However, Judge Daniel Nishigaya ultimately factored in Smith's cooperative behavior in deciding to go easier on him. With his back to the gallery, Smith spoke to the court only briefly but with words of contrition.
Smith said, "I want to apologize for my actions. I would also like you to know, that I will follow whatever orders you give me."
Smith was put on three years of probation. He must serve 11 days in jail or do 11 days of a sheriff's work program, such as picking up litter. Smith and his house and vehicles can be searched by any peace officer for the next four years. And he must pay several thousand dollars in court fees and assessments.
Recognizing that Smith plays football on Sundays, the court is allowing Smith to do his work program on Mondays.
Smith got into trouble two years ago when a party got out of hand at his hilltop San Jose house. Prosecutors said a who's who of gang members were there, and one of them got hold of an assault weapon from Smith's bedroom. Two people were shot. Smith was stabbed. That led to the possession of assault weapons charges.
Then, a few months later, Smith lost control of his car and smashed into a tree. He was arrested for DUI. He missed five 49ers games while he went into a substance abuse program out of state. Did Smith get off easy because of his celebrity status? The prosecutor doesn't think so.
"I think Aldon Smith got treated completely fairly. He got treated like anyone else would in this county with this kind of conduct, period," prosecutor Brian Buckelew said.
Even if Smith abides by the sentencing, he's not off the hook. The NFL still could take action against him for infractions of its personal conduct code.
Smith left the courtroom with his attorney, using a side door, allowing him to avoid reporter's questions.
The 49ers and everyone around the NFL fully expect a suspension for Smith. Before Friday's sentencing, many analysts believed he'd miss four to six games -- and that will cost him game checks, as well. He could lose up to $875,000 if suspended a full six games. We'll have to see how the commissioner rules.