When a judge revoked Chris Brown's probation on Monday in connection with an alleged hit-and-run incident in May, the headline was that the 24-year-old singer might be facing four years in jail over the incident.
Brown will remain free pending an August 18 hearing and has professed his innocence in a series of tweets. A spokesperson for the singer issued a statement to MTV News saying that the lawyer for the driver in the hit-and-run case "clearly specified" that his client did not want to press charges, that any damage in the incident was "negligible" and that Chris did identify himself at the scene and handed over the appropriate insurance information.
My cross is heavy but God gives me the strength to carry it.— Chris Brown (@chrisbrown) July 15, 2013
Brown's lawyer said in court that the matter might be resolved without another major probationary hearing after the hit-and-run case goes back to court in Van Nuys on July 23.
"We are hopeful that the case will be dismissed next week," read the statement. "Based on this new charge, as required by law, Judge Brandlin who is supervising Mr. Brown's probation is required to revoke Chris' probation. However, once the Van Nuys case is dismissed, we expect this matter to be resolved and his probation to be reinstated on the same terms and conditions. Chris was released on his own recognizance today by both judges."
Veteran Los Angeles-based criminal defense attorney Mike Cavalluzzi, who has no firsthand knowledge of the case, told MTV News that Brandlin was not required to revoke Brown's probation, but that the action is routine in situations where someone like Brown picks up a new criminal case.
"Once that new case is dismissed, if it is due to a finding of no wrongdoing, it is also routine to reinstate the probation on the felony case," said Cavalluzzi. However, he added that even if the misdemeanor case is dismissed but there is proof of some wrongdoing, Judge Brandlin could still look at that new case and determine for himself if there was some wrongdoing on Brown's behalf and decide to violate his probation.
"It could be anything from reinstating probation with no punishment, to extending his probation, to additional community service, jail time or state prison time," he said. The likely scenario, though, is that the judge will reinstate Brown's probation with a violation noted on his official record if the Van Nuys case is settled.
Earlier this year, Brown was facing another possible probation violation trial after being accused of not properly completing the community labor requirements from his 2009 felony conviction for assaulting then-girlfriend Rihanna. Brown pleaded guilty in 2009 to the Rihanna attack and in a plea deal was sentenced to five years probation, a year of domestic violence counseling and 180 days of community labor; he did not serve any jail time as part of the initial sentencing. As for whether Brown could be facing more intense scrutiny than the average Angeleno on probation, Cavalluzzi said there's no doubt the spotlight is on him.
"It's very common if you pick up a new criminal case, regardless of how serious it is, even a person not in the public eye, would have their felony probation revoked pending the outcome of that case," he said. "But because of his celebrity, the seriousness of the [2009 assault] offense, because he's remained in the public eye and had further contact with police that was unappealing, he's facing tougher scrutiny."