Tennessee Titans backup quarterback (and former Tampa Bay Buccaneer) Chris Simms was acquitted by a New York court last month of driving while high on marijuana.
A Manhattan jury reportedly deliberated for about an hour on the misdemeanor charge before returning a not guilty verdict.
Simms was arrested last summer at a police sobriety checkpoint in downtown Manhattan. He had been to dinner with his wife and two friends and was heading back to his home in New Jersey when he was stopped.
A police officer testified that Simms turned sharply just before the checkpoint, squealing his tires. The officer also testified that Simms’ vehicle smelled of marijuana and that Simms was “like a zombie.” He went on to testify that Simms slurred his words and said that there wasn’t any marijuana in the car because “he smoked it all.”
Simms did not testify at trial but told the media after the trial that “[t]he comment I made to the officer is that there was someone in the car who smoked marijuana.”
Simms’ passenger and longtime friend Charles Granatell testified at trial that he was solely responsible for a marijuana scent in the car. Granatell testified that he smoked pot by the SUV while Simms stopped in at another friend’s 40th birthday party. That friend testified that Simms was “very, very lucid” during his stop at the party.
In her closing argument, the prosecutor dismissed the testimony of both men, saying that one was not believable and the other was irrelevant. She questioned why Granatell would have let Simms get arrested in front of his pregnant wife rather than speak up at the time. The jury clearly disagreed with the prosecutor’s assessment of the witnesses.
Simms took an alcohol breath test that showed no indication of alcohol. He declined a urine test that could have shown the presence of any drugs in his system. His lawyer said Simms declined the urine test because he was frustrated with being arrested first and tested later.
Simms had declined a plea offer that would have resulted in no jail time if he pleaded guilty to a noncriminal driving-while-impaired violation. If convicted at the trial, Simms could have faced up to a year in jail. Any admission to smoking marijuana (or conviction) could have also subjected Simms to suspension by the NFL.