Chris Brown Cops a Plea for Probation

The details of what really happened between Chris Brown and Rihanna in a rented Lamborghini during the early hours of Feb. 8 may never be known, since Brown struck a deal with prosecutors today, pleading guilty to felony assault in exchange for probation.

Brown's lawyer Mark Geragos announced that a deal had been struck just minutes before a preliminary hearing was set to start in a Los Angeles courtroom. Brown, who could have faced four years in prison for felony charges of assault and making criminal threats, will not serve any jail time.

Instead, he was sentenced to five years probation and 1400 hours of community service, which he may be allowed to serve in his home state of Virginia. If Brown violates his probation, he will be ordered to serve the maximum four years.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Patricia Schnegg also issued a protective stay-away order, under which Brown cannot come within 50 yards of Rihanna unless they are required to be at the same event, in which he case, he cannot come within 10 yards of her. He's also banned from having any phone or e-mail contact with her.

Rihanna had been set to testify at the preliminary hearing. Instead, wearing a black mini dress and pearls and appearing perfectly coiffed, the pop singer showed up in court just after Brown left and stood calmly while the judge explained the details of the protective order.

Outside the courtroom, Rihanna's attorney Donald Etra told that she had been notified about the plea about an hour and 15 minutes before Brown appeared in court.

"She has no objection," Etra said. "Her input was elicited and she fully agreed with the plea agreement. It was all right with her."

When other reporters asked about her state of mind, Etra responded: "From the beginning she has stated that she would be prepared to testify. She was here today. She was prepared to testify and if there had been a preliminary hearing she would have testified truthfully."

Instead, there were reports that Geragos had met with Schnegg for more than an hour in her chambers.

Wearing a lightweight beige plaid suit with a tie and handkerchief, Brown arrived at court at 1:45 p.m. with an entourage of about 10 people, including his mother, Joyce Hawkins, who sat in the front row.

Chris Brown's Plea Deal

As part of the plea deal, Brown was also ordered to attend 52 weeks of domestic violence counseling and surrender any fire arms within 24 hours. Brown must also submit a DNA sample.

After the prosecutor read off the terms of the plea agreement, the judge asked Brown, "How do you plea?" He responded in a strong voice, "Guilty."

"I think it is commendable that you took responsibility for your actions," the judge then told Brown. "I hope the terms of your probation will have some meaning for you. This will be a felony. This will be formal probation, supervised probation."

Schnegg also said his community service would not be at a "church or old folks home." Instead, she described it as transportation duty, which amounts to picking up trash along the roadways, and cleaning off graffiti.

With this plea arrangement, Brown's and Rihanna's accounts of that fateful night, which left her bruised and bloodied and Brown under arrest for felony charges, will remain unsaid -- at least for now.

Here is a look at the events that led up to today's plea deal:

Feb. 7, 2009

Rihanna and Brown are all smiles at a high-profile industry party together at mega-producer Clive Davis' home on Saturday, the night before they were both scheduled to perform at the Grammy Awards.

Feb. 8, 2009

Brown and Rihanna are involved in an early morning argument and assault in his car while parked in the Hancock Park area of Los Angeles around 12:30 a.m. Responding to a 911 call about a disturbance, the LAPD takes statements from a female with visible injuries, who named Brown as her attacker.

Brown, who had fled the scene, later turns himself into police and was charged with two felonies, assault and making criminal threats, and was released after posting $50,000 bail. Grammy producers scramble to fill the slots allotted to Brown and Rihanna, as both are no-shows.

Feb. 15, 2009

Brown releases a statement : "Words cannot begin to express how sorry and saddened I am over what transpired. I am seeking the counseling of my pastor, my mother and other loved ones and I am committed, with God's help, to emerging a better person."

The statement comes too late for advertisers for the Milk Mustache campaign and Wrigley's Doublemint gum, which severed their relationship with Brown. Some radio stations also stop airing Brown's songs.

Rihanna has yet to speak out, but her father, Ronald Fenty, does. "There is some bruising. She will be all right. I think so," he told People magazine. "At some point, she will speak out. I hope she will stand up for women all over the world.

Feb. 19, 2009

A graphic photo of a battered Rihanna is leaked on the Internet. The picture is a close-up of a young woman with her eyes closed and bruises and cuts on her forehead, lips and cheeks.

Reports surface of Brown's violent past. In an interview with Giant magazine, he talked about growing up terrified, watching his stepfather abuse his mother. Rihanna also suffered headaches growing up amid her parents' stormy relationship.

There are also reports that the Feb. 8 assault was not the first time Brown hit Rihanna.

Feb. 27, 2009

Chris Brown and Rihanna are photographed together jet-skiing and relaxing at the Miami home of Sean "Diddy" Combs. Rumors buzz that they are back together.

March 5, 2009

A police officer's affadavit detailing Rihanna's beating is released at the same time Brown makes his first appearance in court. Geragos, Brown's attorney, is overheard telling his client that Rihanna's attorney Donald Etra is working with them. Etra is also overheard telling Brown: "I think Rihanna would like this resolved as quickly as possible as well."

The affidavit tells a more grim story. According to the officer, Rihanna read a three-page text message on Brown's phone from another woman and got into a heated argument with Brown. Brown shoved Rihanna into the window of his rented Lamborghini, while driving, the affidavit said. He punched her several times and said, "I'm going to beat the s*** out of you when we get home," the affidavit said. When Rihanna countered by calling her assistant's phone, according to the affidavit, Brown warned, "You just did the stupidest thing ever. I'm going to kill you."

March 7, 2009

Brown returns to work in the recording studio and urges kids to vote for him for Nickelodeon's Kids Choice Awards. He withdraws his nomination a few days later.

Rumors that the couple is working on a love duet are shot down by an industry source.

April 3, 2009

Brown pleads not guilty to both felony counts.

May 7, 2009

Geragos argues Rihanna's leaked photo may be grounds for the case to be dismissed.

May 27, 2009

Brown releases two videos on YouTube telling his "haters" that he is not a "monster" and, by the way, buy his new album too.

June 11, 2009

Both Brown and Rihanna are spotted at an NBA game, though not together. The couple has not been linked together since early March.

Rihanna hangs out with new friend Katy Perry and is romantically linked to Kanye West and Aubrey Graham. Brown celebrates his 20th birthday with a low-key affair in his hometown in Virginia.

June 18, 2009

The court refuses to delay Brown's hearing. The preliminary hearing was to determine whether there was enough evidence for the case to go to trial.