NFL running back could spend up to five years in jail if found guilty.
Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice could face up to five years in prison after a grand jury indicted him on Thursday on a charge of aggravated assault.
The charge stems from an incident on February 15 at the Revel Casino in which Rice allegedly struck his fiancee, Janay Palmer, rendering her unconscious.
Security video obtained and posted online by TMZ.com showed Rice lifting Palmer out of an elevator and laying her on the floor.
Both Rice and Palmer were originally charged with simple assault and domestic violence in the apparent altercation.
A statement from the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office says that Rice was indicted for “attempting to cause significant bodily injury, and/or purposely or knowing causing such injury, and/or recklessly causing such injury under extreme indifference to the value of human life.”
The indictment means the grand jury believed there was enough evidence for the case to go ahead.
A conviction of a third-degree crime in New Jersey carries a potential jail sentence of three to five years and a fine of up to $15,000.
Rice’s lawyer, Michael Diamondstein, told NFL Media that his client did not commit aggravated assault.
“We deny Ray Rice committed aggravated assault,” he said. “Neither Ray nor Janay Palmer wish to prosecute the matter. Ray and Janay are together. They’re happy and they’re in counseling.
“We ask only that the public reserve judgment until all the facts come to light,” Diamondstein said.
The Ravens again voiced support for Rice after the indictment was returned.
“This is part of the due process for Ray,” the team said in a statement. “We know there is more to Ray Rice than this one incident.”
Rice also could also be sanctioned by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, but Goodell said Wednesday he would wait for more information before deciding on that.
“We’ll let the facts dictate that,” Goodell said.
Rice, 27, inked a five-year, $35 million contract with the Ravens before the 2012 campaign.
He helped the Ravens to a Super Bowl title that season, but struggled in 2013, rushing for only 660 yards and four touchdowns.