Chris Culliver arrest: What the charges mean, and what it all means with the 49ers, NFL

Ezra Shaw

Chris Culliver was arrested Friday morning for several crimes involving a hit-and-run. We break down what the crimes are, and what it all means for potential discipline with the 49ers and the NFL.

San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver was arrested Friday morning and booked on four separate charges related to a hit-and-run incident in San Jose. CSN Bay Area is reporting that as of 4:30 p.m. PT on Friday, he had not yet been released.

The crimes involve a hit-and-run with a bicyclist, and then a subsequent incident with a witness to the first accident. Obviously we try and keep things as "innocent until proven guilty", but at the moment, things don't look good for Cully. If he did what the arrest report claims, my guess is he would try and plea out on this, but it's way too early to know anything with any certainty.

That also means it's hard to tell what is in store in terms of league punishment. They will wait for the legal process to wrap up. Whether it be a plea bargain or it goes through the trial process, we'll have to wait on that to see how the NFL handles it. This is his first incident with the law since entering the NFL, so it's not like he'd be facing some massive suspension. But some kind of punishment would likely be handed down.

As for the 49ers? Most people are saying cut him and move on. At this point, if guilty of all this, it's easy to see him as a knucklehead who doesn't deserve a second chance. Although his comments to Artie Lange, and his actions here are two completely different issues, they don't exactly provide a great track record to give him further benefit of the doubt.

The 49ers have the kind of draft choices they need to replace Culliver, if they so chose. They also could bring Carlos Rogers back for another tour of duty. They have plenty of options, although if they were going to release him. I don't think it's necessary to immediately release him. I'd imagine IF they were going to release Culliver, they'd at least wait until he got out of jail and talked to him. I'm sure he'd beg forgiveness and promise to change, but who really knows what to make of this whole situation. It's a stupid mess.

For now, here is a quick rundown of the four charges on which he was booked into the Santa Clara County Jail:

1. Felony hit-and-run - California Vehicle Code 20001

This comes from the initial accident in which he reportedly hit a bicyclist. Culliver reportedly took off from there, which is obviously a no-no. Under the motor vehicle code, he is required to immediately stop and exchange the necessary information. The level of injury determines how much potential punishment Culliver would face. The KTVU report described the bicyclists injuries as "minor".

Any injury in a hit-and-run creates a wobbler scenario, where the person can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony. In this case, they went with a felony, which includes the following potential punishment:

(a) shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison, or in a county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of not less than one thousand dollars ($1,000) nor more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine.

2. Reckless driving causing an injury - California Vehicle Code 23104

Even if Culliver had stopped his car and exchanged information, he still could have been charged with reckless driving causing an injury. Maybe a level-headed response to the situation would have changed this, but that's in the past at this point. This includes the following potential punishment:

[I]mprisonment in the county jail for not less than 30 days nor more than six months or by a fine of not less than two hundred twenty dollars ($220) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment.

3. Felony possession of brass knuckles - California Penal Code 21810

After escaping the scene, Culliver was reportedly followed by an eyewitness who cornered him on a street. According to KTVU, the police report states that Culliver got out of his care and brandished the brass knuckles in a threatening manner. Had he not done that, the cops possibly might not have found them, and in turn not charged him with felony possession. And yes, it is illegal in California to possess brass knuckles. I also can't recall the last time I heard of someone using brass knuckles for anything.

For this crime punishment I'm not 100 percent positive, but because it's a felony, I believe he could face up to three years in prison and/or a maximum of a $10,000 fine.

4. Misdemeanor hit-and-run - California Vehicle Code 20002

And finally, while escaping from the eyewitness who cornered him, Culliver hit the person's car in his escape. This did not appear to result in an injury, so it automatically is a misdemeanor. He would face up to six months in county jail, and/or a fine not exceeding $1,000.

5. Misdemeanor driving on a suspended license - California Vehicle Code 14601

This is a late addition. For a first offense, you get between 5 days and 6 months in jail.

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