Charges Against Chris Brown Reduced to Misdemeanor

Brown is still on probation for his 2009 attack on pop singer Rihanna, who was his girlfriend at the time

Charges against Chris Brown and his bodyguard were reduced to misdemeanor simple assault Monday evening, after the R&B star spent much of the weekend in custody following his arrest after a fight near a Washington hotel.

At his court hearing in D.C., Brown did not enter a plea to the misdemeanor. He faces up to 180 days in jail if convicted.

After the charges were reduced from felony assault, some fans in the courtroom cheered; they were ejected from the courtroom by the judge.

Brown himself did not comment as he left the courthouse, though he did wave to a crowd of fans who had gathered outside the courthouse. "Free Chris!" some shouted.

The star's family defended him in interviews Monday. "I think people target him to get him into trouble," Brown's uncle, Kevin Brown, said late Monday, outside the same hotel where the alleged assault occurred.

After the hearing, his attorney, Danny Onorato, said, "Mr. Brown committed no crime. We understand that his security staff acted to protect Mr. Brown and his property as is authorized by District of Columbia law.

"We are confident that Mr. Brown will be exonerated of any wrongdoing," Onorato said.

New court documents reveal a conversation between a uniformed Secret Service agent and detectives, according to News4's Shomari Stone. The agent said he overheard one of the witnesses talking to D.C. police.

That witness said the alleged victim said Brown never hit him, Stone reported. The alleged victim denies that he said that.

Wild Hearing

Brown's courtroom was so crowded that it was standing-room only. U.S. Marshals had to order spectators to leave and request that an overflow courtroom be opened.

Brown and his bodyguard, 35-year-old Chris Hollosy, had been held in a cell block in the D.C. Courthouse since early Sunday following an altercation outside the W Hotel, not far from the White House.

The incident began when a 20-year-old resident of Beltsville, Md., tried to get into a picture with Brown and two other people just before 4:30 a.m. Sunday, according to a police report.

According to that document, Brown told the man, "I'm not down with that gay [expletive]" and "I feel like boxing."

The victim received treatment for his injuries at a local hospital and was released. He told NBCWashington that he suffered a broken nose and may need surgery.

At a press conference Monday evening, a lawyer for the victim asked that the media give the victim space and time to heal.

Police said the felony charge was based in part on the extent of the victim's injuries.

'Homecoming Weekend'

However, court documents show that there are conflicting stories about whether Brown himself was involved in the fight.

"After a brawl started, and one gentleman was hit in his face," said witness Abraham Luakabuanga. "That was really bad. He started bleeding, and a few moments after, he called the police."

Luakabuanga said he didn't see the victim fight back.

After the altercation, Brown's bodyguard, Hollosy, started pulling Brown back toward their tour bus, according to the police report.

Outside court Monday, a friend of Brown's uncle said that he didn't believe the reports. "I don't believe it happened the way they said it happened," said Tommy Sanders. "We'll find out. But once you have somebody who is protecting you, a true and real protector will go the extra mile."

Brown was in D.C. to perform Saturday night at an event billed as a "Homecoming Weekend" party at The Park at Fourteenth, a downtown club. Howard University was celebrating its homecoming, though a university spokeswoman said the party was not sponsored by or affiliated with the school.

The new charge could further snarl the Grammy Award-winning R&B singer's ongoing legal troubles.

Brown is still on probation for his 2009 attack on pop singer Rihanna, who was his girlfriend at the time, and he now has 48 hours to report to his probation officer.

Brown also is due back in court Nov. 20 in Los Angeles to update a judge on his probation. Prosecutors could seek a revocation of his probation or ask a judge to impose additional penalties.

Steve Cron, a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, said prosecutors and a judge may wait to see how the Washington case plays out before taking any action against Brown.

"Just the fact that some guy says 'he hit me' doesn't mean he's in violation'' of his probation, said Cron.

Attempting a Comeback

The singer recently opened up in an interview with the British newspaper The Guardian about life growing up, his assault on Rihanna and a hit-and-run accident he was involved in this summer.

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Since that incident, he has gone on to win a Grammy and release three more albums, saying he wanted to prove people wrong -- that he could make a comeback.

And although it seems he accomplished that goal, Brown hit another snag in August when a judge revoked his probation and gave him 1,000 additional hours of community service after he was involved in a hit-and-run accident earlier this summer, according to an E! report.

Brown has also been in the news this year for allegedly fighting with R&B singer Frank Ocean over a parking space and a nightclub brawl with rapper Drake.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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