SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith was charged Wednesday with three felony counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon, stemming from a party at his home in June 2012.
The Santa Clara County district attorney's office said in announcing the charges Smith is expected to surrender on his own later this month. The 24-year-old Smith is on an indefinite leave of absence from the NFC champion Niners 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 191â„2 sacks last season - would play again this year, Harbaugh said only, "I don't have any need to further comment on it."
On Monday, the coach said he had traded a few text messages with Smith, saying, "Heard that things are going very well, very positive reports back."
If convicted, Smith could face up to four years and four months in jail, the district attorney's office said.
"The preamble to the assault weapons law states that each assault weapon "has such a high rate of fire and capacity for firepower that its function as a legitimate sports or recreational firearm is substantially outweighed by the danger that it can be used to kill and injure human beings,'" District Attorney Jeff Rosen said. "California's prohibition of these powerful weapons is not about hunting or target practice. It is about interrupting the long history of death, carnage and grief assault weapons have inflicted on California communities."
Smith also is likely to face a suspension from the NFL, perhaps pushed back to next season or after his legal issues are resolved.
Smith, selected seventh overall in the 2011 draft out of Missouri, had previously been arrested on suspicion of DUI in January 2012 in Miami shortly after the 49ers lost in the NFC championship game.
He is on the reserve non-football injury list while in rehab, and there is no NFL minimum for number of games he must miss while on the list.