Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice pleaded not guilty to a charge of third-degree aggravated assault and applied for a pretrial intervention program Thursday morning in Mays Landing, N.J. According to CBS Sports, third-degree aggravated assault, a felony, carries a potential sentence of three to five years in prison.
In February Rice and his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, were involved in a brutal domestic dispute at a casino in Atlantic City, N.J., that ended with Rice knocking Palmer unconscious. Days after the altercation, Rice stated that he was attending counseling. The couple were married at the end of March.
Rice arrived at his court appearance hand in hand with Palmer. He said he is a "happy father and a happy husband." When reporters asked what he hoped would happen, Rice responded, "For you all to have a blessed day."
As part of the pretrial intervention program, certain defendants can avoid formal prosecution—but there's no guarantee Rice will be approved for the program. If he isn't, his next court date is scheduled for May 29. Rice could still face punishment from the NFL, which might include a fine or suspension, even if he's not convicted.
Yesha Callahan is editor of The Grapevine and a staff writer at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.