COVINGTON, KY (FOX19) - Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Jerome Simpson appeared in Kenton County court Monday on felony drug charges.
He has been indicted for a Class D felony on one count of trafficking 2.97 pounds of marijuana. If convicted, he faces a minimum of one year and a maximum of five years in prison.
He allegedly had the drugs sent to his Crestview Hills condo last September. Simpson did not have to appear in court but chose to appear with his attorney, Burr Travis. Simpson is free and was ordered to post a $2,500 bond by Tuesday. His next court appearance is February 20.
FOX19 News looked into Simpson's options and learned that he has three. The first is to plead guilty and hope judge Gregory Bartlett does not order jail time and instead sentences him to a Diversion program and/or probation. The second option Simpson has is take the case to a bench trial, upon which Simpson's fate and sentence would be decided by Bartlett. Another option is for Simpson to have a jury decide his fate and sentence. If he chooses that option, however, in Kentucky a jury must sentence him to jail, if convicted. Probation is not an option.
Kenton County Prosecutor Rob Sanders told FOX19 News that any defendant stands a better chance of not going to jail if they don't take the chance on either a jury trial or a bench trial.
"Not speaking to Mr. Simpson's case in particular, but I will say in general it is much more common that if someone is going to get probation it is after a guilty plea rather than a trial," Sanders said.
"Jury trials in felony cases can take 2, 3, 4 days sometimes," said Mike Allen, FOX19 legal analyst. "Judges like to avoid that if possible. And if the defense lawyer knows that if he goes to jury trial and loses, it will be a stiffer penalty, it encourages plea bargains, let's put it that way. I'm not saying it's the right way it should be or the way it should be in a perfect world but in the real world that's what happens, that's the way it works."
Sanders also said Simpson is not facing federal charges due to the low amount of marijuana involved. When asked if the Bengals player could get any breaks because he's a professional athlete Sanders said, "This case is only different because the defendant happens to catch footballs for a living but for us it's just one of dozens of other marijuana cases that we have in this office."
As for Simpson's NFL career, he is not currently under contract with the Bengals and is a free agent.