Earlier this month, Chris Brown pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from his February altercation with Rihanna on the eve of the Grammys. While Brown was expected to appear in court on Wednesday (April 29), sources close to the situation told MTV News his lawyers will be appearing instead — however, the case will advance in some way. So what can the singer expect?
Well, it depends on a number of factors — both sides in the case were reportedly working furiously to negotiate a plea deal, and a few of those factors favored a deal being struck, legal experts have said.
On Wednesday, there's a remote chance his attorney, Mark Geragos, will announce that a plea deal has finally been reached.
However, Peter T. Haven, a legal expert based in California, explained that most likely Geragos will ask for additional discovery time. Earlier this month, Brown's legal team made a similar request, which in turn allowed them to see what evidence the prosecution held — a court formality. This time, the Brown camp will have to update the judge on their findings and may request more time to seek further evidence on their own.
Haven, who worked on O.J. Simpson's controversial book "If I Did It," said the prosecution may argue against the motion which, if successful, could see the judge set a preliminary hearing in the near future — as early as in 90 days, according to Haven.
"During the preliminary, which is significant, the prosecution puts the case in front of the judge to convince the judge that they have sufficient evidence to go forward with a criminal prosecution," Haven told MTV News. "The defense then tries to kill the case. [But] if there's enough evidence, the prosecution could then get a trial date."
If the case goes to trial, Brown could face a maximum of four years and eight months in prison if he's found guilty, according to an L.A. County District Attorney spokesman. Brown is battling felony charges of assault and making criminal threats.
What may prove to be a sticking point in negotiations moving forward is the matter of Rihanna's jewelry. The singer recently requested through her attorney that the jewelry she wore the night she and Brown argued be returned to her. The items are reportedly worth up to $1.4 million, and the jeweler who loaned the Barbados native the goods is requesting she either return or pay for them. According to TMZ.com, sources claim the prosecution is holding the jewelry as a means of leverage against the singer should they require her to testify. Additional sources told the celebrity site the claims are not true and that the district attorney and Brown's team will simply use photos of the jewelry in case, should they need to. If that's the case, Rihanna — who is not required to appear in court — may receive word on Wednesday that her jewelry will be returned.
Ultimately, on Wednesday, if the judge rules in favor of a preliminary hearing or an additional 30 days for further discovery, Haven said the timetables will establish dates for each side to work with if they chose to strike a deal.
"The deadlines will help get something done or prepare things to move forward," Haven said. "These are target dates that drive deals to be done."
[This story was originally published at 6:53 am E.T. on 04.29.2009]