ATHENS – Georgia has yet to announce a punishment for Branden Smith, who was arrested on March 11 in South Alabama for misdemeanor possession of marijuana, and there may be a good reason.
There are indications Smith may fight the charge.
Smith, a senior cornerback from Atlanta, recently retained an attorney and an April 24 court date has been set for a bench trial. A “bench trial” is when a judge hears a case and rules on it without a jury. Smith was originally scheduled to face the charges on April 10.
Smith’s lawyer, Hamp Baxley of Dothan, Ala., said they have not yet decided how to proceed with the case.
“We haven’t made any decision about whether he’s going to plead or find some alternative dispute resolution or what,” Baxley said Tuesday. “We’re at the very beginning of the process right now.”
Baxley declined to comment on the details surrounding Smith’s arrest because “my client hasn’t given me authorization to make any comments about it. All I can tell you we’re due to make an appearance on the case.”
Smith was on his way to a spring break vacation in Panama City Beach, Fla., on March 11 when he was pulled over by a Henry County (Ala.) Sheriff’s deputy outside Headland, Ala., at 11:30 p.m. for a malfunctioning tag light.
The police officer claims to have detected the odor of marijuana in the 2007 Dodge Charger Smith was driving. A bag containing less than one ounce of marijuana was discovered under a seat during a search, police said. Smith and passenger Danze Woods of Atlanta were charged with possession and taken to Henry County Jail. Smith was released on a $2,000 bond by G&I Bonding at 2:15 a.m. on March 12.
UGA Athletic Association policy mandates a one-game suspension for misdemeanor arrests. Georgia opens the season against Buffalo on Sept. 1. Senior Sanders Commings, who starts at the other cornerback, already has been suspended for the first two games due to a run-in with police.