What started as a domestic dispute has quickly escalated for former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel. The 23-year-old football player was officially charged with a Class A misdemeanor assault charge. On April 26th, he was formally indicted by a Dallas County grand jury. He is set to appear in court on May 5.
The charges stem from an incident that occurred on January 30. Police responded to a call that led them to Manziel’s now ex-girlfriend, Colleen Crowley. In the report, Crowley explains that she and Manziel got into an argument. During the dispute, Manziel reportedly struck Crowley on the head several times. She explained to police that while alcohol was not involved, he was acting, “as if he were on some kind of drugs.”
Manziel has adamantly denied hitting Crowley. However, this is not the first time police have responded to a domestic dispute between the two, and is just the latest in a history of police encounters for the football star. On October 12, 2015, Manziel was questioned by police for possible aggravated assault. Police were called after witnesses spotted a man (Manziel) pulling a woman (Crowley) back into a car during a heated dispute. The key witness explained that this incident occurred on the highway at high speed. After questioning both Crowley and Manziel, the responding officer decided not to file charges, despite noticing a mark on Crowley’s wrist directly related to the incident.
In the past, Manziel has also been arrested for possession of a fake I.D., smoking marijuana, and disorderly conduct. All of Manziel’s prior arrests have been misdemeanors, and he has not had to serve any significant jail time as a result. All of these arrests and his general off-field behavior has led to his being cut by the Cleveland Browns and dropped by 2 agents.
Jim Darnell, Manziel’s lead attorney, has stated that his client intends to fight the charges in court, and that Manziel will plead “not guilty”. In an official press release, Darnell stated that the grand jury heard “part of the case”, and that he believes Manziel will be “acquitted at the conclusion of the case”.
Should a judge find Manziel guilty of Class A aggravated assault, he faces up to 1 year in prison and a maximum fine of $4,000. Manziel’s ex-girlfriend has already been granted protective orders which stipulate that Manziel not see her for two years, stay 500 feet away from both her home and her work place, and that he pay her $12,000 for legal fees.
It is still possible for Manziel to avoid a prison sentence. A possible deal between his attorneys and the prosecutors could see Manziel getting treatment for ongoing substance abuse and anger management, both of which have been tied directly to his current troubles with the law.