San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster appeared in court on Tuesday, pleading not guilty to the three felonies he faces for his February arrest. There is an evidentiary hearing on Friday (which could be cancelled if certain evidence is provided before then), and then a preliminary hearing set for Thursday, May 17th.
Foster was formally charged in April, but since then, the accuser has recanted her statement. She said that her injuries were caused in a fight prior to her interaction with Foster. She provided the DA’s office with a video she says proves this, but after review the prosecutor has continued with the case.
This process could hinge on what happens at the preliminary hearing. There is some belief that the accuser could be in court to testify to what she stated through her attorney. This could lead to a dismissal of the charges, although the prosecutor is not required to dismiss charges if the woman does not want to continue. The prosecutor represents the state, not the alleged victim.
Where this whole things get particularly interesting is a decision Foster made through his attorney. He chose not to waive time and pushed for the quicker preliminary hearing. Waiving time is when you waive your right to a speedy trial, and thus potentially delay the legal process. By choosing not to waive time, Foster is pushing the prosecutor forward whether the latter is fully prepared or not.
If the judge decides there is enough evidence to proceed with trial, California law requires a trial begin within 60 days. That means we are looking at the start of a trial by mid-July at the latest. More than likely there would be resolution on the case before the start of training camp. If this goes to trial and Foster is found guilty on the domestic violence charge, he would seemingly be released by the team. If he is found not guilty, he would likely be back to the 49ers for the start of training camp.
I point specifically to the domestic violence charge because if he is separately found guilty on the gun charge, I don’t expect the 49ers to release him. He could still face a suspension under the personal conduct policy, but I think the 49ers would give him another chance if only the gun charge results in a guilty verdict.