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Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings are poised to make another run at the playoffs in 2013, but the team will have to begin its quest without the services of fullback Jerome Felton, who has been suspended for three games by the league after being arrested for driving under the influence.
Felton was arrested on June 2, 2012, but the NFL decided to let the court case play out before handing down a punishment. Although Felton eventually pleaded guilty to a charge of reckless driving, the league still decided to hand down a stiff punishment.
“We respect the league’s decision and Jerome understands it,” said Vikings general manager Rick Spielman. “Jerome is focused on returning to the playing field in Week 4 vs. Pittsburgh.”
The reason the league came down hard on Felton was because this wasn’t his first run-in with the law. Felton was charged with a DUI in 2009, and the NFL doesn’t take repeat offenses lightly.
Felton faced plenty of trouble off the field for the arrest. He was charged with careless driving and a third-degree DWI with an aggravating factor, since he had a prior DWI conviction within 10 years.
According to the law:
A third degree DWI is a gross misdemeanor and punishable by up to one year in jail and a $3,000 fine. A person convicted of a DWI within ten years of one prior drunk driving offense must be sentenced to a minimum of 30 days in jail, 48 hours of which must be served consecutively. The mandatory minimum fine for this offense is $900.
The specifics of the case are unknown, but it appears Felton was able to avoid the third-degree DWI charge by pleading guilty to the lesser charge of reckless driving. A reckless driving violation is considered a misdemeanor offense and is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. It does not appear that Felton will have to serve any time in jail as part of the arrangement.
Criminal defense attorney Stacy Kaye said she was not surprised Felton agreed to the lesser charge.
“Although I don’t know the specifics of the case, pleading guilty to a lesser charge occurs more often than people might think,” said Kaye. “As an attorney, you always want to get the best possible ruling for your client, but sometimes the lesser charge is the best option. This is especially true if the arrangement allows a client to avoid jail time, because even a short sentence could mean the loss of employment or child custody.”
Kaye added that it’s an attorney’s job to review all the evidence and consult with the client to go over all the potential ramifications of potential rulings before agreeing to a lesser charge.
Related sources: NFL.com, ESPN, Pioneer Press