49ers linebacker hit with assault weapon charges

Niners 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 that Smith is expected to surrender on his own later this month. The 24-year-old is on an indefinite leave of absence from the NFC champion 49ers 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 19½ 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.

“California’s prohibition of [assault weapons] is not about hunting or target practice,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said. “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.

Last month, Smith and former teammate Delanie Walker were named in a lawsuit filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court by a Northern California man who said he was shot at a party at Smith’s house June 29, 2012.

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