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Ravens' RB Ray Rice pleads not guilty; requests first-time offender program

According to the Baltimore Sun on May 1, Baltimore Ravens' running back Ray Rice pled not guilty on May 1, rejecting a plea offer that would have spared him jail time, and applying instead for a diversionary program that could ultimately clear his record. His wife, the former Janay Palmer, sat right behind him in the Atlantic County, N.J. courtroom.

Ravens RB Ray Rice is requesting a diversionary program for first-time offenders instead of pleading guilty to assault
Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images

Rice’s not guilty plea was to one count of aggravated assault, a third-degree crime. The charges resulted from an altercation at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City this past February where he was caught on security tape knocking Palmer unconscious. The two were married after the altercation.

Ray Rice has been low key since the assault; however, he has stated several times he is ashamed and very sorry for the incident. According to attorney Michael Diamondstein, “First and foremost, he’s very remorseful for the actions that happened that night. He loves Janay, and he wants to move forward. He thinks it’s best for not only himself, but his family, his job.”

The program Rice is requesting is generally reserved for first-time offenders. Rice has never been in trouble before and it may be his best option. He will have to admit guilt, satisfy probation requirements and attend any rehabilitative programs as assigned. Provided he completes all requirements, however, six months later he can apply for an expungement and his record will be clean once more.

Ray Rice has another problem besides the legal case against him. He is a high-profile player for the Baltimore Ravens. Enter the NFL. The League has its own rules and regulations destined to protect the image it has built over time. Rice could still be fined, suspended or worse.

As for the Baltimore Ravens, the team has stood solidly behind Rice, without committing too heavily one way or the other. They are waiting for the court case to conclude. Both team owner Steve Bisciotti and coach John Harbaugh have stated that Ray Rice will continue to be a Raven. According to Public Relations Director Chad Steele, comment will be made at the appropriate time.

The Atlantic County Prosecutor still has to accept Rice into the diversionary program. Rice’s attorney has said that Ray Rice will fight the charge if not accepted into the program. If the case goes to trial and he’s convicted, Rice could be looking at a maximum prison sentence of five years.

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