Tennessee Titans cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones on Thursday reached a plea agreement in the felony obstruction of an officer case he was facing in Fayette County, Ga., but the plea goes as the first felony conviction on his criminal record since being drafted by the team.
Jones reached an agreement that is the equivalent of a no contest plea for obstruction of a police officer and was given three years probation, according to his attorney Manny Arora.
However, Fayette County (Ga.) District Attorney Scott Ballard said the plea of guilty under a U.S. Supreme Court statute Alford v. North Carolina, which allows a guilty plea without an admission of guilt, does make the suspended Titans player a convicted felon.
“We’re very pleased. He pled guilty, and he’s now a convicted felon,” Ballard said. “There’s a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Alford v. North Carolina that says it may be in a person’s best interest to plead guilty to a charge, rather than contest it.
“He is pleading guilty under Alford vs. North Carolina. It’s still a guilty plea, and he’s now a felon, and he’s on probation for three years.”
Jones had originally been charged after allegedly scuffling with police officers after he was sitting in a parked car with his pregnant girlfriend and a male friend.
He was accused by police of biting an officer on the hand in a scuffle.
"We maintain that Adam is innocent in these matters, but felt that it was best to go ahead and accept this agreement rather than fight it in court and risk possible incarceration," Jones' attorney Manny Arora said. "You have a situation where the accounts of the five police officers and those of Adam and his pregnant girlfriend do not corroborate."
Jones was originally recommended for five years probation by prosecutors, but Judge Paschal English reduced the length of the sentence to three years in part because of some community service work Jones has performed. Normally in cases of attacks on police officers, some amount of jail time is usually served. Jones won’t serve jail time unless he violates the terms of the probation with an other arrest or conviction. Jones also was fined $500.
Jones has had six arrests since the Titans have drafted him, and Thursday’s agreement marks the first felony conviction on his record. All other cases have had the charges dropped or have been reduced in plea agreements.
“It seems like all over the country Pacman has been able to wriggle out of allegations, and we were pleased to have a felony stick,” Ballard said.
Saying he hoped Jones would not be involved in any more incidents, Ballard admitted the plea deal could be voided if Jones is arrested again during the three-year period, and that he would not necessarily need a conviction to have the probation revoked.
Jones, who has been suspended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell since April 10, now has all criminal matters pending against him settled, though he still faces civil lawsuits from a Las Vegas incident last February. Goodell has not yet notified Jones or his representatives when he plans to rule on any possible reinstatement.
His failure to disclose the obstruction arrest and a marijuana possession arrest that was dismissed in 2006 were violations of the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy and contributed to his suspension by Goodell.
Greg Aiello, senior vice president of public relations for the NFL, said the league would have no comment on the proceedings involving Jones Monday or any statement regarding a timetable for a decision on his return.