Ray Rice, the Baltimore Ravens running back arrested for third-degree aggravated assault after a video was released of him dragging his apparently unconscious then-fiancé out of an Atlantic City hotel elevator after a physical confrontation, pleaded not guilty and applied for a pretrial intervention program Thursday morning in Mays Landing, N.J.
The pretrial intervention program is a diversionary program that permits certain defendants (particularly first-timers) to avoid formal prosecution.
If Rice is not approved for the program, his next court date is scheduled for May 29. Prosecutors have offered a plea agreement in which Rice would receive probation with no jail time and undergo anger management counseling.
Rice was arrested and charged with simple assault-domestic violence on Feb. 15 after a physical altercation with his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer, at the Revel Casino and Hotel.
He was indicted by a grand jury in late March for allegedly striking Palmer. He married Palmer one day later. She was seated behind Rice in the courtroom Thursday.
Even if Rice avoids being convicted, he will likely receive punishment from the NFL — a fine or suspension — under the league’s personal conduct policy. Rice, 27, signed a five-year, $35 million contract with the Ravens before the 2012 season. He is coming off his worst season, rushing for only 660 yards and averaging a career-low 3.1 yards per carry.
On Wednesday, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said the uncertainty surrounding Rice’s future will not impact the team’s draft plans.
“We’ll deal with Ray when that time comes,” Newsome said at the Ravens’ pre-draft news conference, adding that the team was talking about adding one or two running backs even before Rice’s incident.