Ocean has made it clear to authorities that he is “desirous of prosecution in this incident,” according to a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s spokesman, who said Brown has been named as a suspect in a battery report. And on Monday, TMZ, reported that a source close to Brown claimed the singer was not involved in the brawl and is interested in speaking to police.
But what if Brown, who has one more year of probation left to serve in connection with a felony guilty plea in connection with his 2009 assault on on-again, off-again girlfriend Rihanna is charged in the melee?
“When Frank Ocean says he wants to press charges that is not indicative of whether charges will be pressed,” said Jacob Glucksman, a criminal defense lawyer and former district attorney in Los Angeles. “It’s up to the prosecutor whether there is enough probable cause to file new charges against him [Brown].”
Glucksman, who is not connected to the case and has no firsthand knowledge of the open investigation, said prosecutors have discretion in how they treat Brown’s latest legal tangle. They could decide not to file new charges, but the prosecutor could treat the incident as a probation violation in lieu of a new filing. “Instead of a new case, the prosecutor may ask the court to revoke [Brown's] probation and violate him based on the agreement he made to obey and follow all laws,” said Glucksman, who noted that there is a lower standard of review for a probation violation than a new criminal case.
MTV News was unable to reach Brown’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, at press time and a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Department of Probation said they were unable to comment on Brown’s probation status because of confidentiality laws.
If a new case if filed against Brown, prosecutors would need to find evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a higher standard of proof. “The other option is to file a new and separate case based on the incident the other day and if that’s the case, if he were to plead guilty or no contest in the new case he could and most likely would violate his probation in the Rihanna case.”
Based on the press accounts he’s seen, though, Glucksman said the incident sounds like a misdemeanor case, which could land Brown battery charges carrying up to six months or 180 days in jail. If it was treated as a probation violation, though, the judge could sentence Brown to the maximum on the felony assault case, which is up to four years in state prison. “But that’s very unlikely,” Glucksman said. “The prosecutor has to determine if there’s enough evidence to file charges, which is based on eyewitness statements as to who started it, who threw the first punch, if it was in self-defense and if threats were made.”
Once the prosecutor makes his/her determination, Brown’s probation officer will write a report on what happened and submit it to the court. But, Glucksman said, it is ultimately up to the prosecutor or the court to determine if they will seek to violate Brown’s probation.
Neither Brown nor Ocean has issued a formal statement on the matter to date, though both have taken to social media to update their followers, with Ocean tweeting that he “got jumped” by Chris and a couple guys.
On Monday, Brown target="_blank">Instagrammed that he was trying to focus on his work, “not negativity,” before posting a drawing of Jesus on the cross with the caption: “Painting the way I feel today. Focus on what matters!”