Brown Pleads Not Guilty to Two Felony Charges

Chris Brown pleads not guilty to assaulting Rihanna, sets new court date.

April 6, 2009 — -- Almost two months after allegedly beating and bruising his pop star girlfriend, Rihanna, Chris Brown appeared in court and plead not guilty to the two felony charges against him -- assault likely to cause great bodily harm and making criminal threats.

The 19-year-old's arraignment took place in Los Angeles Monday afternoon. Brown, dressed in a subdued black suit, showed up to court with his lawyer, Mark Geragos. After pleading not guilty to both charges, Brown agreed to return to court for a preliminary hearing April 29.

Neither Rihanna, 21, nor her lawyer, Donald Etra, were present inside the courtroom for the hearing. Outside the court, Etra told reporters Rihanna was "doing fine" in her native Barbados with her family.

"Rihanna's presence is not required, she will not be there," Etra told prior to the hearing. "Her involvement in the case is that she's a witness, and she will do everything the district attorney asks her to do. At this time there has been no requirement for her to be in court, so she has not been in court."'s calls to Brown's lawyer were not immediately returned Monday.

Brown put off his arraignment at his initial March 5 court appearance. That day, an open microphone recorded a snippet of conversation in which Brown, Etra and Geragos spoke candidly about the case.

Etra told Brown, "I think Rihanna would like this resolved as quickly as possible as well."

Brown responded, "I'm just a little confused on the terms ... how it's represented."

Geragos stepped in and said, "I explained that the best thing that could happen in this case is that Don [Rihanna's lawyer] is involved. Didn't I tell you that before?"

Brown was charged March 5 with two felonies. Unless a plea deal is worked out or the charges are dropped before April 29, the next step will be the preliminary hearing in which either Rihanna or a detective would testify.

If a judge finds probable cause at the preliminary hearing, Brown will be formerly indicted. Alternatively, he could be indicted by a grand jury. If indicted, his case would proceed to trial.

Brown Faces Up to Five Years in Prison

Together, Brown's charges carry a maximum of four to five years in state prison, "but nobody ever gets that," Los Angeles defense lawyer Dana Cole told ABC News last month. 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, Cole says. 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.

Rihanna has not spoken publicly since the alleged Feb. 8 beating. She and Brown reportedly reunited at the Miami Beach, Fla., mansion of hip-hop mogul P. Diddy in March.

Friday, Rihanna's dad, Ronald Fenty, told Us Weekly magazine that the singer had returned to Barbados to celebrate her grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary.

"She is doing really, really well. She's back to herself again," he said.

ABC News' Lauren Pearle contributed to this report.