January 24, 2007 02:15 AM

Snoop Dogg pleaded not guilty Wednesday in an Orange County, Calif., court to a felony charge of knowingly possessing a dangerous weapon.

His attorney, Donald Etra, entered the plea on his behalf. If convicted, the rapper faces up to three years in prison.

On Sept. 27, Snoop, whose real name is Calvin Broadus, tried to board a plane at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, Calif., while carrying a 20-inch collapsible baton in a computer bag.

It is one of many non-lethal weapons that are illegal in California.

“The reason we’re pursuing this as a felony is because of Mr. Broadus’s criminal history, and his apparent and continued disregard for the law,” said Orange County District Attorney spokeswoman Susan Schroeder.

“Snoop’s not guilty plea says it all,” Etra tells PEOPLE. “The item he’s charged with was a movie prop, not a weapon. Snoop never intended it to be used as anything other than a prop.”

The rapper’s next hearing on the matter is slated for April 5.

Snoop, 35, has a another case currently under review with the L.A. district attorney’s office: On Oct. 26, he was arrested in Burbank, Calif., at Bob Hope Airport after police found a handgun and marijuana in his car. He was freed on $35,000 bond.

Because he is a convicted felon since a 1990 cocaine trafficking bust, he is forbidden from possessing firearms for the rest of his life.

On Nov. 28, police detained Snoop and his entourage as they were leaving the Burbank studio where the Tonight Show with Jay Leno is filmed, and simultaneously executed a search warrant on his L.A. home and vehicles.

This led to the discovery of another handgun, more marijuana, cocaine and a false compartment in his vehicle. Snoop was arrested again, posted bail for $60,000 and was released that night.

The Los Angeles District Attorney has yet to file formal charges stemming from the latter two arrests.

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