UGA's Natrez Patrick no longer faces marijuana charge

The district attorney's office of Barrow County, Georgia, has dismissed criminal charges against Georgia linebacker Natrez Patrick, his attorney told ESPN on Thursday. Patrick was one of two Bulldogs players arrested on misdemeanor marijuana charges on Dec. 3.

Patrick and reserve receiver Jayson Stanley were arrested only hours after the Bulldogs upset No. 2 Auburn 28-7 in the SEC championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. They were returning to Atlanta from Winder, Georgia, when a Barrow County sheriff's deputy stopped the car for speeding on Georgia Highway 316. Stanley was driving. According to people familiar with the arrest, the officer smelled marijuana emanating from the car.

The district attorney's office also dropped DUI charges against Stanley during a hearing Thursday at Barrow County Probate Court. Stanley agreed to plead guilty to misdemeanor possession of marijuana and speeding, his attorney -- Kevin Christopher of Jefferson, Georgia -- told ESPN.

"We were able to complete a prompt and thorough investigation of the case, and discuss the results of the investigation with the district attorney," Christopher said in a statement. "This led to a resolution of the case with the charges that should have originally been filed.

"Jayson entered a conditional discharge plea to the possession of marijuana charge, and a guilty plea to speeding, while the DUI charge was dismissed. The conditional discharge plea means that Jayson is not technically convicted, and upon successful completion of the sentence, the arrest will be removed from his record."

Patrick's attorney, William Healan III of Winder, told ESPN that officers arrested Patrick after discovering a loose leaf of marijuana in the passenger's seat of Stanley's car. Healan said the leaf was smaller than a penny.

"When you get into someone's car, you're not going to search it to see if there's marijuana in the car," Healan said. "My client didn't know the marijuana was there. If you're sitting on a little piece of marijuana that you didn't know was there, you're not knowingly in possession of it."

In a video released to media last week by the Barrow County Sheriff's Office, Stanley claimed ownership of the marijuana and is seen pleading with officers to not charge Patrick. "It's my car. It's my car, though," Stanley said in the bodycam footage. "Please hear me out. Please, please, please."

The sheriff's office said it also discovered a small leaf of marijuana in Stanley's seat and marijuana residue in an orange juice bottle in the floorboard.

"All right, sir, unfortunately the marijuana was in your seat where you were sitting, and the bottle of the leftover marijuana was underneath your seat," the arresting officer told Patrick in the bodycam footage.

Patrick, a junior from Atlanta, was facing dismissal from the team following his third marijuana-related arrest. He was arrested in October on misdemeanor marijuana charges and served a four-game suspension. He was also arrested on the same charges as a freshman in 2015 and was suspended one game.

It wasn't immediately known whether Patrick would be available when the No. 3 Bulldogs take on No. 2 Oklahoma in a College Football Playoff semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual on New Year's Day.

Georgia Athletic Association policies mandate that student-athletes be dismissed from the team following a third drug-related incident. Stanley faced a two-game suspension for the DUI charges and a one-game suspension for the drug-related incident.

Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart and a team spokesman weren't immediately available for comment on Thursday morning.

Patrick is Georgia's sixth-leading tackler with 35 stops, and he had three tackles in the SEC championship game. Stanley has three tackles on special teams and hasn't had a reception in 11 games.

"Obviously, the coaches are going to have make that decision," Healan said. "But from my perspective as his attorney, [Patrick] didn't do anything wrong and didn't commit a crime. It would be a shame to see someone punished after he was cleared in a court of law."

During an appearance last week at the Bronko Nagurski Trophy presentation in Charlotte, North Carolina, Smart said he was gathering facts before deciding whether Patrick and Stanley would be punished.

"We've still got things we're finding out," Smart said. "We're trying to discover everything involved. We're disappointed in both young men but we've got a lot of information to still find."