updated 06/19/2009 AT 6:00 PM ET
•originally published 06/21/2009 AT 3:00 PM ET
More than four months after Chris Brown allegedly assaulted her, Rihanna is expected to break her silence Monday during testimony in a Los Angeles court. The preliminary hearing is to determine if there’s enough evidence for a trial against Brown. Here are answers to frequently asked questions about the case:
What will Rihanna say?
Rihanna’s lawyer has steadfastly said the singer will comply with prosecutors and tell the truth. Her testimony is expected to mirror a detective’s report about the alleged assault. Experts say she could be on the stand for approximately two hours, including cross-examination by Brown’s attorney. Cameras won’t be allowed in the courtroom.
Will Brown be there?
Yes, he’s required to attend.
Can Rihanna be forced to testify?
No. Rihanna is legally required to appear in court. But she can refuse to take the stand and, since this is a domestic violence case, the court cannot threaten her with jail time to compel her to speak. At most, she could be punished with fines or other sanctions, but a judge may be reluctant to do so.
What about the rumors that Rihanna hit Chris and started the alleged fight?
The question will almost certainly be raised in testimony. The detective’s report makes no mention that Rihanna physically instigated the alleged fight, which the report says erupted over a text message Brown received from a previous lover. Lawyers for both Rihanna and Brown had no comment on this question. The judge also may not allow questions to be asked about previous physical fights the couple may have had, which would be seen as outside the scope of a preliminary hearing.
How will her testimony affect the case?
It can make or break it, experts say. If she appears credible on the stand, it could push Brown to accept a plea deal – which could include some jail time – and avoid a trial. If her testimony seems unreliable and prosecutors fail to prove they have a case, Brown’s lawyer could ask for the two felony charges to be reduced or dismissed on the spot.
Are Rihanna and Chris still together?
Unclear. The on-again, off-again pair were last known to be together in early April. Rihanna has been spotted out twice recently with Canadian rapper, Aubrey “Drake” Graham, with whom she’s been romantically linked.
When will this case end?
The case could end at any moment with a plea deal, and experts say a trial is unlikely. However, Brown’s attorney could make any number of legal requests or arguments that could stall the case for months.