San Diego's Pro Bowl receiver Vincent Jackson will receive 4 days in lieu of 96 hours in a work-release program, plus a probable NFL suspension this fall, after pleading guilty to his second California DUI offense since 2006.
Jackson, 27, also was sentenced to five years’ probation, a $2,408 fine and 15 days of community service stemming from his DUI arrest in January 2009. Because it’s his second DUI offense, Jackson likely will be suspended by the NFL, according to the league’s substance-abuse policy.
The suspension could be about two games, but his overall punishment could have been much worse. The San Diego City Attorney’s Office asked a Superior Court judge to punish him with “substantial custody” — as much as 180 days in jail — after hearing Jackson make comments in a local radio interview last month that prosecutors apparently considered irreverent, according to court documents.
In that interview with Darren Smith of XX Sports Radio, Jackson was making reference to a different incident: his traffic stop a few hours before the Chargers playoff game against the New York Jets on Jan. 17.
In that interview, Jackson said, “I’m sure that once it’s all said and done, we’ll definitely get the last laugh and hopefully our law enforcement will definitely continue to support us in the way that they have.”
Jackson’s San Diego DUI criminal defense attorney, Cole Casey, was advised that City Attorney Jan Goldsmith was “upset by the radio interview,” according to court documents that Casey filed. “Specifically, he was apparently upset about Mr. Jackson indicating in the interview he would ‘have the last laugh,’ insinuating, at least in the minds of the city attorney, that Mr. Jackson was laughing directly at the prosecutor’s office and law enforcement.”
As a result of that traffic stop, Jackson was charged with driving with an expired registration and a suspended license. (His license had been suspended as a result of his second DUI arrest.)
Jackson will plead not guilty next week to charges stemming from that traffic stop, Casey said.
Casey said “there’s a genuine issue in that case as to whether Vince knew his license was suspended versus whether it was restricted.”
Jackson’s DUI sentencing was standard punishment for a second DUI, Casey said. Court records show that Jackson didn’t get a jail sentence but is to serve 96 hours in a Sheriff’s work-release program, which in similar cases often constitutes roadside trash pickup over two weekends.
“Although the city attorney attempted to punish him for being a celebrity and making comments on the radio, he was treated as any other second offender,” Casey said. “He wasn’t given any special treatment, nor did he ever ask for any.”
Casey’s court filings also state that in the 14 years of his DUI law practice, including more than 7,500 cases handled with the City Attorney’s Office, he has “never experienced, on a misdemeanor case, a request to the Judge, by the City Attorney’s Office, for additional custody due to statements made by a defendant in contrary or in criticism to the city attorney’s positions or beliefs.”
Judge David Danielsen’s only remark about the case, according to the City Attorney’s Office, was that he was going to treat Jackson “like everyone else.”
“In light of the fact that Mr. Jackson still has a case pending our lawyers are unable ethically to discuss this beyond simply stating what occurred in the courtroom,” Goldsmith said in an e-mail.
Casey had fought the second DUI case last year on the basis that Jackson’s rights were violated after his arrest when his blood was drawn against his will with his arms handcuffed behind his back. Jackson had requested a breath test instead, as was his right, but a California Highway Patrol officer considered him to be slow-moving and recalcitrant with the breath test, so he administered the blood test instead.
The case was delayed by two continuances since November, helping Jackson avoid a conviction until after the football season. Casey’s court filing also says the city attorney wanted additional custody for Jackson because of the “amount of continuances that were requested.” However, the city attorney did not oppose any of the continuances at the time.
Jackson’s blood-alcohol content in January 2009 was measured at 0.17 percent, more than double the state limit. Jackson’s previous DUI conviction stemmed from his arrest in June 2006.