Immediately after Chris Brown's plea deal was announced on Monday (June 22), speculation began as to whether the 20-year-old singer was let off the hook too easily for allegedly assaulting his former girlfriend, Rihanna.
Brown avoided jail time and instead was sentenced to 180 days of labor service in Virginia, five years of probation and was ordered to attend a domestic-abuse program for a year.
In addition to the deal that was reached, Brown was also issued a "stay away" order by the judge hearing the case. According the guidelines of the "stay away," Brown isn't to have any contact with Rihanna during the duration of his probation period. In the event both celebrities appear at a function, Brown is to remain a certain distance away from his onetime girlfriend and Rihanna isn't to contact him either.
Many think Brown received only a slap on the wrist for what he pleaded guilty to, but legal expert Peter T. Haven thinks Brown may have actually gotten more than he bargained for.
"It sounds good on the surface — no jail time — but in many respects, it's a pretty tough deal," Haven told MTV News. "He has to do 180 days of labor service. In California, for instance, we're used to seeing guys in jumpsuits picking up trash on the freeway or weeding. Labor service is not gonna be easy. You have to get up super early, you have to be there almost before the sun comes up and work until 2 or 3 [p.m.]. Then he has to do 52 weeks of sitting in a class for two hours every week. He almost gave up a year of his life — that's an indication that the prosecution probably had a pretty good case and [Brown] really didn't want to do any jail time."
Brown was offered 180 days of jail time as an alternative to labor service, which Haven described as "hot, tough, hard work."
Haven suggested that jail time might have been an easier option for Brown. The singer will be formally sentenced on August 5 and Haven suspects the 180 days may be reduced to a shorter time span at that hearing. A brief sentence could easily be reduced even further for good behavior if Brown did serve time.
"It's not a walk in the park [either way]," Haven explained. "But, say if he did jail time as a part of his plea, he probably wouldn't have served the full term — he probably would have done less. He would have gotten out earlier and the whole thing would have been done. When you're in jail, it's also hard to violate the terms of your probation. When you voluntarily take it upon yourself to take these things on yourself and have to show up yourself, that leaves a lot of room for error."
Further complicating matters is that Brown's 180 days of service could be spread out over years. Meanwhile a short jail stay could potentially be "easier and cleaner," Haven said.
"Some lawyers have recommended jail to their clients," he said. "Because if you screw up, you're gonna get more than just 180 days."