If a judge finds probable cause at the preliminary hearing, Brown will be indicted. Alternatively, he could be indicted by a grand jury, but that would be unusual in this kind of case. If indicted, his case would proceed to trial.
Together, Brown's charges carry a maximum of 4 to 5 years in state prison, "but nobody ever gets that," Los Angeles defense lawyer Dana Cole told ABC News. More realistically, if convicted, he may be looking at 60 days in county jail and/or mandatory counseling, according to experts.
It will be a lot harder, but not impossible, to prosecute Brown without Rihanna's cooperation. A detective could testify on her behalf, or prosecutors could subpoena her to testify. It's common for women to refuse to cooperate in domestic violence cases: as much as 85 percent of alleged victims recant their stories, Cole said.
People magazine reported this weekend that the two pop stars had reunited and reconciled at Diddy's mansion on Miami Beach's Star Island.
Photographers snapped pictures of Brown riding a Jet Ski and driving a car during the weekend. He and Rihanna reportedly flew back to L.A. early this week.
While Rihanna's dad, Roland Fenty, initially backed up his daughter upon hearing about her reported decision to get back together with Brown, he lashed out at Brown after learning about the charges against him.
"Justice can never be served in this situation; he can't feel the pain she felt," he told Usmagazine.com.
Additional reporting contributed by ABC News' Laura Coverson and Lauren Pearle.