On the afternoon Rihanna was expected to take the witness stand in a Los Angeles courtroom to recount her February 8th altercation with Chris Brown, Brown’s legal team, led by lawyer Mark Geragos, managed to reach a plea bargain with the prosecution. After pleading guilty to an assault charge, Brown will avoid jail time by spending 180 days performing community labor in his native Virginia; he will also attend a domestic violence counseling program, both TMZ and the Los Angeles Times report. Additionally, Brown will receive five years of supervised probation for the felony assault charge. He previously pleaded not guilty to felony counts of assault and making criminal threats. At a press conference following the plea bargain, Rihanna’s attorney Donald Etra said Brown was faced with the choice of serving 180 days of community service or 180 days of prison time. If Brown violates his probation, he will receive up to four years in jail.
After Brown’s plea, the judge said she planned to issue a “stay-away” order that will bar him from contacting or coming near Rihanna until August, but Etra said his client didn’t want it. The judge will consider downgrading the order in August, when Brown is formally sentenced, but until then the two are banned from contacting each other. As long as the order stands, Brown must stay 50 yards away from Rihanna for the next five years. If the pair are present at the same event, the distance will be reduced to 10 yards.
While Rihanna did go to the courthouse for today’s hearing and subsequent plea bargain, the “Umbrella” singer never actually entered the courtroom when Brown was present. Rihanna didn’t know about the plea deal until 12:30 p.m. PT today, about an hour before court was in session. Her lawyer said she was prepared to testify.
If Brown’s case had gone to trial and he was found guilty on both charges, he could have faced more than four-and-a-half years in prison. Rumors of a plea deal began to spread this morning after TMZ reported that Geragos and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office were hard at work hammering out an agreement. Brown’s legal team tried several times recently to postpone today’s hearing and delay Rihanna’s testimony.