UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones was arrested in the early hours of Thursday morning in his hometown of Albuquerque, N.M., and booked on charges of driving while intoxicated, negligent use of a firearm, possession of an open container, and no proof of insurance.
This followed police responding to a report of a gunshot, and finding Jones in a Jeep with an unidentified man sitting on the sidewalk next to the vehicle. Jones allegedly had cannabis residue on his clothing, and performed poorly on multiple sobriety tests. A partial bottle of tequila was found in his vehicle, along with a handgun, and a spent shell casing matching the firearm's caliber was found next to the car. Jones denied knowing anything about the gunshot.
Earlier this year Jones completed probation for disorderly charges at a strip club. In 2015 he was put on probation for 18 months after injuring a pregnant woman in a hit and run, and then fleeing the scene on foot. Most relevant to this latest fiasco is a 2012 DUI conviction; Jones could be charged as a second-time offender and if convicted the sentence is a mandatory 90-day jail, with up to one year possible.
”It allows the prosecutor to make a strong argument, look how many opportunities he’s had to modify his behavior, and look how every time he’s been given an opportunity, he thumbs his nose and does what he pleases,” explained attorney David Serna. "I would think that the judge would probably give the guy some time, because the judge would look at the prior history and see the guy has been given break after break and may say now’s the time you’re going to be held accountable.”
Serna believes the officer who first responded, Jason C. Brown, is the same LEO who pulled him over for drag racing; in a moment that went viral, Jones bitterly argued over the citation. The Albuquerque Journal reports that officer Brown has received three civilian complaints over racial profiling.
”Who knows, he may have had a thing out for this defendant," said Serna. "I’d be surprised if the lawyers don’t argue there was some pretext or vindictive prosecution, just because he’s had run-ins with this same guy before. I think the defense would certainly assert that this particular cop is after this particular guy.”
”Usually, the DA is happy to waive a jury trial whether it’s part of a plea bargain, dropping it down from a second to a first [offense], or whether it’s because the DA doesn’t want to go through all the hassle and time a jury trial will take. It will take a day just to pick the jury because this guy is well-known. It will take a day or two just to try the case, so what started out as a half-day bench trial gets stretched out to a two or three-day trial. Prosecutors typically are more than happy to waive a jury trial because of all the time it eats up that could have been used pleading out dozens of other people.”
The SARS-CoV-2 global pandemic is shuttering the globe, including local courts in Albuquerque. If the case stays a misdemeanor, it will be dismissed if not brought to trial within a certain time. However, prosecutors may not want to be perceived as dismissing the case or minimizing the punishment due to Jones' fame. So Jones could go to jail for months, or he could be saved by a coronavirus, or something in between.
"Bones" is due back in court on April 8 for a bond hearing.