Michael Vick surrendered Monday, three weeks before sentencing. ((Haraz N. Ghanbari-Pool/Getty Images))

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick surrendered to U.S. authorities Monday, three weeks before his sentencing on a dogfighting charge.

Vick is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 10 on the dogfighting conspiracy charge, but decided to turn himself in early because he is anticipating a prison term and would like to start serving his time, according to a court document and a U.S. marshal.

The offence is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 US fine, although the plea bargain agreement likely means Vick will serve less time.

Vickis being held at Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, a U.S. marshal told the Associated Press.

The order filed in U.S. District Court said "Vick has indicated his desire to voluntarily enter custody prior to his sentencing hearing. It appearing appropriate to do so, the U.S. marshal is ordered to take custody of the defendant immediately upon his surrender."

The order added that Vick was taken into custody "based solely on his desire to begin his period of incarceration prior to his sentencing hearing and not because of violation of any condition of his bond."

Vick is to be sentenced Dec. 10 by Judge Henry Hudson in Richmond, Va.,four months after he and three co-defendants pleaded guilty to charges related to a dogfighting operation financed by Vick.

Vick and his co-defendants still face state felony dogfighting charges.

Vick, a three-time Pro Bowler who set an NFL record for quarterbacks by rushing for 1,039 yards last season, signed a 10-year, $130-million US contract extension with the Falcons on Dec. 23, 2004.

He is suspended indefinitely without pay.

With files from the Associated Press