Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick's chances of getting back on the football field were dealt a serious blow Tuesday (September 25) when a Virginia grand jury indicted him on state dogfighting charges.
According to CNN, the grand jury lodged two charges against Vick: one count of killing dogs and one of promoting dogfights. Those charges come on top of a recent plea agreement accepted by Vick on federal dogfighting charges, in which he admitted to bankrolling a dogfighting operation from his Virginia home (see "Michael Vick Pleads Guilty To Conspiracy"). The Associated Press reported that any animal-cruelty charge in Virginia is punishable with up to five years in prison; Vick admitted in his federal plea to helping kill six to eight dogs.
The grand jury declined to indict Vick and his three co-defendants on eight counts of animal cruelty, which could have sent the men away for up to 40 years if convicted on all counts. He's scheduled to be arraigned on the state charges October 3 and sentenced on the federal charges December 10.
"Crime was committed here. How do you ignore it?" Surry County Commonwealth Attorney General Gerald Poindexter said to reporters outside the grand jury courtroom, CNN reported. "Not piling on anybody, just looking out for Surry County." Poindexter defended his decision to bring the state charges against Vick and three co-defendants because he said the federal charges did not cover the crimes committed in Surry County. Poindexter asked that the four men — who were not in court Tuesday — be released on a $50,000 bond.
Vick is already prison time on the federal charges. He could face one to five years in prison, although prosecutors have been recommending 12-18 months. CNN reported that any state jail time would likely not be served concurrently but after the federal time. Vick and three co-defendants pleaded guilty in August to a federal conspiracy charge, in which Vick admitted guilt in traveling across state lines to take part in an illegal activity and sponsor a dog in a dogfight.
With the football season already heading into its fourth week, Vick remains on an indefinite suspension by the NFL without pay and he's been dropped by all his major sponsors (see "Why Does The Michael Vick Case Hurt Hip-Hop?").