Chris Brown, ex-boyfriend of pop star Rihanna, appeared in a Los Angeles courtroom Friday and pleaded guilty to the felony assault charges lodged against him after he assaulted Rihanna in his rented Lamborghini in the early morning hours of February 8. A last-minute plea deal was entered on Chris Brown’s behalf by his lawyer, Mark Geragos, CNN reported.
Judge Patricia M. Schnegg sentenced Chris Brown to 180 days (around 1,400 hours) of community service, which could be served in his home state of Virginia. In addition, Brown was ordered to attend a domestic-abuse class for a year. He was also ordered to stay away from Rihanna for five years (which is the amount of time he is on probation), to remain at least 50 yards from Rihanna at all times, except at functions like awards shows, where he would stay at least 10 yards away. And the R&B artist must check in with a probation officer every three months.
But no jail time.
Rihanna was in the courtroom, ready to testify, but that was not to be. The plea deal obviated the necessity for her testimony.
As soon as the plea deal was entered and became a matter of public record, the question was immediately raised: Was the sentence too lenient? And another: Did he receive star treatment?
Some are saying no. Legal expert Peter T. Haven told MTV.com that Chris Brown may have gotten more than he bargained for. Brown was given the choice of jail time or community labor. Doing the jail time, Haven explained, would have been a simple in-and-out, with Brown most likely getting some of the jail time suspended. Being on the outside, doing the labor over a period of time, gives Brown time to make a mistake. Haven said that if that were to occur, Brown would serve more than the 180 days.
Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, said,
“His sentence is not based on what he’s available to do. His sentence is what he’s going to do, or he’s going to go to state prison for four years.”
But there are many who believe that Chris Brown’s sentence was too light, that he should have at least received some jail time for what he did to Rihanna, the results of which became apparent to all when a photo of the pop star was “leaked” to the internet. And many of those believe he should have received the jail time in addition to the sentence Judge Schnegg handed down.
One legal analyst on HLN’s “Showbiz Tonight” said that the sentence definitely was not light, that Chris Brown would forever be known as a felon, that from this day forward the R&B star would have to fill out applications and answer formal questions in the affirmative if asked if he had a criminal record.
Filling out applications? Questions about his criminal record? Chris Brown is a fairly wealthy individual. It is doubtful he will be filling out applications or answering questions about his status as an upstanding citizen.
All in all, Chris Brown’s sentencing was somewhat stiff, but how stiff remains to be seen. Chris Brown will be formally sentenced on August 5. Some legal experts believe that his sentence may be reduced on that date.
As to the sentence, what of seeing a probation officer every three months? Taking a domestic abuse class? Community service that will more than likely be reduced?
The sentence seems to lose its stiffness with each passing word…
What will those who say that his sentence is too lenient say if the sentence is reduced? What about those who say the sentence was fairly harsh?
But more importantly, what does a sentence that allows Chris Brown to completely avoid jail time for a savage criminal assault signal to the general populace?
“Showbiz Tonight,” HLN Television