SAN JOSE -- Linebacker Aldon Smith of the 49ers didn't do himself any favors this past weekend by getting into hot water again -- just as prosecutors in the San Francisco Bay Area were weighing how to handle two criminal cases still pending against him, legal experts said.
His arrest Sunday on charges of making a false bomb threat at Los Angeles International Airport worsens his chances of working out a plea bargain with Santa Clara County prosecutors, the experts said. It also marked the second time he has gotten in trouble at a critical juncture.
In September, Santa Clara County prosecutors were debating whether to charge Smith with illegal possession of three assault rifles, which were discovered in 2012 after gang members crashed a party at his house, stabbing him and shooting other guests. Smith was considered a victim in that case, putting prosecutors in a quandary about whether to charge him.
But while Smith was waiting to hear his fate on the gun charges, he was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, effectively ruining his chances of avoiding prosecution for the guns.
Technically, prosecutors here cannot count his conduct in Southern California as a "prior" because no charges have been filed yet and the incident occurred after they filed the illegal assault weapon possession charges and the DUI. But they may be far more reluctant to offer him a plea deal involving reduced charges and/or a lighter sentence in exchange for a guilty or no contest plea.
According to Los Angeles police, Smith was apparently "belligerent and uncooperative" with a TSA agent who selected him for secondary screening and then made a comment indicating he had a bomb. The linebacker also may have been drinking, they said.
Santa Clara County prosecutors were circumspect Monday about the possible impact.
"We're aware of the situation in Los Angeles,'' said Santa Clara County prosecutor Brian Buckelew, declining to comment further.
Legal observers said Smith's sentence on the DUI and gun charges could wind up being harsher, with some jail time a greater possibility, in part because of what the sentencing report prepared by probation officials is likely to say. The probation report is likely to characterize him as more incorrigible -- and therefore deserving of a tougher sentence -- for failing to clean up his act in Los Angeles after getting in trouble here.
If Smith were convicted of the gun charges, he would face a range of possible punishments, from probation up to four years and four months in prison.
The typical sentence for a first-time DUI conviction is six days on a weekend work crew. But in Smith's case, prosecutors have said there are three aggravating factors that could put him in jail for up to six months: He was involved in a collision (with a tree); his blood-alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit; and he has a previous arrest in Florida for drunken driving.
Making a false bomb threat is what's known as a wobbler; that is, Los Angeles County prosecutors can charge it as a felony or a misdemeanor.
If Los Angeles police booked Smith on a felony charge, prosecutors there have a few weeks to investigate the case and decide whether to file charges. However, if he was booked on a misdemeanor, the filing decision could be made by the end of this week or early next.
If they charge him with either one, it would be his third "open" case.
Contact Tracey Kaplan at 408-278-3482. Follow her at Twitter.com/tkaplanreport