updated 06/22/2009 AT 6:05 PM ET
•originally published 06/22/2009 AT 5:00 PM ET
Brown, 20, will be sentenced to five years probation and 180 days of community labor to be served in Virginia. He will also complete a year of domestic violence classes, and pay fines. In exchange, he pleaded guilty to felony assault by means likely to cause great bodily injury.
“Mr. Brown, I think it’s commendable that you took responsibility for your conduct,” said Superior Court Judge Patricia Schnegg.
Brown also was ordered to stay at least 50 yards away from Rihanna – except at industry events, when it’s 10 yards – despite a request from Rihanna’s lawyer for a less-restrictive order. For now, Brown was also ordered not to have any contact with her, which includes phone, email and text communications.
Brown Very Thankful
“He’s very thankful to all the people who’ve been very supportive,” said Brown’s attorney, Mark Geragos. “This is a kid who’s never been in trouble before, who wants to move past this and make sure that the message gets out that these kinds of things, of domestic violence, are not acceptable. And that he has accepted responsibility and continues to do so and embraces this as an opportunity for him to get his life back on track and his career back on track.”
If he violates probation, Brown will face four years in prison. His formal sentencing is set for Aug. 5, when the court will drop a second charge of making criminal threats.
Noting that Brown pleaded to a felony, Schnegg said, “I want Mr. Brown to be treated the same as any other defendant who would come into this court. That means something like Caltrans [trash pickup] or graffiti removal.”
Brown had been charged with two felony counts – assault and making criminal threats – in the alleged fight that left Rihanna bruised and bloodied.
The plea deal was reached shortly before Rihanna, 21, was to testify under subpoena in a preliminary hearing.
Brown, wearing gray suit, off-white tie and matching handkerchief in his front pocket, entered the courtroom shortly after 1:30 p.m. About 10 of his friends and family members, including his mother, were seated in the audience.
Rihanna In Courtroom
After the judge addressed him, Brown left the courtroom and Rihanna, wearing a black dress and pearls, was brought in for the judge to explain the plea deal terms to the singer. The two were never in the courtroom at the same time. She stood before Judge Schnegg, who told her that the court will consider reducing the stay-away order to the least-restrictive one after he’s sentenced. Rihanna’s only words in open court were: “Thank you, your honor,” before she was led out through a side door.
According to a search warrant, Rihanna was assaulted during an argument that began when she read text messages from another woman on Brown’s phone as they were driving in a Lamborghini in L.A. the morning before the pair were both scheduled to perform on the Grammy Awards.
An enraged Brown allegedly tried to force her out of the car, hit her head against the passenger window, punched her in the eye and drove away while steering with one hand and continuing to punch her with the other, says the detective’s notes in the search warrant.
As blood filled Rihanna’s mouth, Brown allegedly told her, “I’m going to beat the s— out of you when we get home. You wait and see!” Rihanna then faked a call to her assistant, saying, “I am on my way home. Make sure the cops are there when I get there.” The police notes indicate the statement prompted Brown to reply: “You just did the stupidest thing ever. Now I’m really going to kill you.”
Additional reporting by HOWARD BREUER and PERNILLA CEDENHEIM