Chris Brown has side-stepped a potential four-year prison sentence, agreeing to a plea deal on what was supposed to be the first day of his assault trial. Rihanna, the victim in the case, never had to testify against her former boyfriend. Brown doesn't walk away unscathed, though, as he'll trade 180 days of community labor in Virginia, five years probation with regular reviews in California and a promise to stay 100 yards away from the "Umbrella" singer in exchange for avoiding a trial.
Brown seemed contrite in the courtroom and readily admitted that he was wrong, which is a good step towards closure. Plus, the plea deal saves Rihanna from the process of having to air her victimhood in public, which is a fair relief. People will be claiming that Brown got off early, but sidestepping a trial and skipping right to a deal is probably best for everyone involved. Public trials are difficult because of the amount of exposure they receive, which compromises the integrity of just about everybody involved. The plea deal may seem unsatisfying, but it does save the justice system from looking farcical.
So maybe this was the best they could do. 180 days is a long time, and let's hope that Brown's service is productive (he'll have to go to counseling as well, which should address the core problem). Ultimately, we have to live with the justice system we've got. It's not perfect, but at least guilt has been assigned and everybody — especially the victim — can begin to move on.