Titans wide receiver Justin Hunter will no longer face a felony charge for an incident that took place in a Virginia Beach bar on the Fourth of July weekend, writes Terry McCormick of 247Sports.com. As McCormick details, prosecution will now only pursue a misdemeanor assault and battery charge, rather than the felony malicious wounding charge Hunter was initially facing.
During a July arraignment, prosecutors said that Hunter started a bar fight on July 3 by punching a man in the face twice. According to prosecutors, after the bar was cleared, Hunter punched the man again while he was bent over spitting out blood on the sidewalk. The man allegedly had a broken jaw as a result of the assault.
Had he been found guilty on the felony charge of malicious wounding, Hunter would have been facing five to 20 years in prison and a $100K fine, whereas the penalty for a misdemeanor assault and battery charge will be significantly less.
Still, the NFL is looking into the incident, and while the distinction between a felony and misdemeanor has a significant impact in court, it may not significantly affect the suspension Hunter may be facing. The league figures to let the legal process play out before announcing any discipline for the Titans wideout, so it’s possible he won’t be suspended until the 2016 season if the NFL determines he violated the league’s personal conduct policy.
With legal issues clouding Hunter’s future off the field, he’ll have to perform well on the field this season to have a future with the Titans. The 24-year-old was viewed as a potential breakout candidate last year, but battled injuries and complied just 498 yards and three touchdowns on 28 receptions.