Mobile Register, AL
TUSCALOOSA -- The Jefferson County Sheriff's Department reduced a felony handgun-possession charge against University of Alabama linebacker Juwan Simpson to a misdemeanor on Tuesday.
The reduction came after a screening of the charges determined the value of a handgun found in Simpson's vehicle during a traffic stop was less than $500, said Sgt. Randy Christian, a spokesman for the sheriff's office.
The pistol, a Taurus 9mm automatic, had been reported stolen in Decatur.
"During the screening process they obtained the original report and they saw the owner had valued the gun at $400," Christian said. "They called around to some sporting goods stores and they all said the price was below $500."
The value of the gun has major implications for Simpson. The original arrest report for Simpson estimated the gun's value at more than $500, which made it a Class C felony under the Code of Alabama. Receiving stolen property that does not exceed $500 is considered a Class A misdemeanor.
If Simpson is found guilty on the misdemeanor charge of receiving stolen property, he could be sentenced to up to one year in jail. Sentencing parameters on the felony charge would have been not less than one year and up to 10 years in jail, Christian said. Probation sentences are also a possibility if Simpson is found guilty.
Simpson now faces three misdemeanor charges in the incident: receiving stolen property in the third degree, possession of marijuana in the second degree and carrying a handgun without a permit.
Simpson was pulled over by an officer with the violent crimes task force for driving erratically on Interstate 20/59 near Bessemer on Saturday. When the sheriff detected the smell of marijuana, he brought in a drug-sniffing dog that turned up what the officer described as a small bag of marijuana.
A search of the vehicle also turned up the weapon.
Simpson was released on $7,000 bond late Saturday night. He has not made a public statement on the incident.
I don't care if the guy had some pot and I don't care if he had a pistol. That's none of my business as it does not confront me. The question is did he know the pistol was stolen when he bought it? If he knew it was stolen then he is wrong because stealing is wrong. If he didn't know it was stolen then he hasn't done anything except break some stupid government rules.