SANTA CLARA – One day before the 49ers played the Cardinals in 2011, Aldon Smith purchased rifles in the gun-friendly state of Arizona. Bringing them back to California has added to the embattled linebacker's long list of problems.
The Santa Clara County district attorney Wednesday filed three felony counts of illegal possession of assault weapons, which were found at Smith's home in the aftermath of a raucous 2012 party that ended with Smith stabbed and two men shot.
Five weapons belonging to Smith were discovered when authorities arrived, including a .45-caliber handgun both Smith and former teammate Delanie Walker allegedly fired to try to disperse the crowd. None of the weapons was registered with the state Department of Justice.
The three semi-automatic rifles were determined to be illegal in California.
In a statement, District Attorney Jeff Rosen said Smith's weapons have such a high capacity for killing that it outweighs their use as recreational firearms.
"California's prohibition of these powerful weapons is not about hunting or target practice," Rosen said. "It is about interrupting the long history of death, carnage and grief assault weapons have inflicted on California communities."
Investigators said the danger posed by the guns was exacerbated when one of the partygoers snuck into Smith's bedroom, grabbed one of the rifles and carried it around the house.
Deputy District Attorney Brian Buckelew said Smith faces up to four years and four months in county jail if convicted.
He said Smith is expected to surrender later this month, at which time he can post bail and an initial court date would be scheduled.
Smith is in an in-patient treatment facility after crashing his car and being arrested for DUI on Sept. 20, his second DUI arrest in as many years.
Investigators said Smith purchased three of the illegal rifles in Arizona, two of them the day before the 49ers played the Cardinals on Dec. 11, 2011.
Smith, who has led the 49ers in sacks in each of the last two seasons, forced a fumble and had four tackles in that game, a 21-19 loss.
"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."
Pressed on whether Smith, 24, would play again this season, Harbaugh repeated that he wouldn't comment.
The NFL already is looking into Smith's DUI arrests and is expected to suspend the linebacker. The gun charges only add to the matter. The league typically does not suspend a player until the legal process is complete, which means discipline may not be handed out until next season.
Adding to his troubles, Smith's legal woes are piling up.
The two men shot at Smith's house have filed civil lawsuits against Smith and Walker, who allegedly fired shots to disperse the partygoers. Neither of the victims was shot by Smith or Walker, authorities determined.
Smith also has been charged for last month's DUI incident in which he allegedly drove his pickup through a residential front yard and crashed into a tree. Smith faces two misdemeanor DUI charges, one because he allegedly had a .15 blood-alcohol level, nearly twice the legal limit.
The other DUI incident, in Miami Beach, Fla., in January 2012, was reduced to reckless driving.
Read Matthew Barrows' blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers and listen for his reports Tuesdays on ESPN Radio 1320.