It remains to be seen what the future holds for Conor McGregor, as a result of the charges he’s facing, following Thursday’s incident at UFC 223’s media day. But, MMA Frenzy recently reached out to criminal defense attorney and “The Fight Lawyer” podcast host, Dmitriy Shakhnevich, to get a sense of what could come next.
It’s being reported that McGregor has been charged with three counts of assault and one count of criminal mischief, after the ruckus at media day. Since the incident, it’s been confirmed that fighters Michael Chiesa and Ray Borg will no longer fight as scheduled at UFC 223, due to injuries they sustained during the chaos.
MMA Frenzy contacted Shakhnevich via email to get some insights on the charges McGregor’s facing, and what they could mean for the Irish star.
Conor McGregor has reportedly been charged with three counts of assault and one count of criminal mischief, as a result of the media day incident in Brooklyn on Thursday. Can you provide some insights in terms of what type of penalties and or sentences this could land McGregor?
Technically, the Criminal Mischief felony, if it’s an E felony, subjects him to up to four years in state prison. That’s 3rd Degree Criminal Mischief. 2nd Degree Criminal Mischief is a D felony, and that’s up to seven years. He’s likely looking at one of those felony charges. He wouldn’t be charged with the first degree. He could also serve up to a year on each misdemeanor charge. But courts typically sentence concurrently for these types of cases, not consecutively. That means he’d serve all the sentences at once. That being said, it’s highly unlikely (very highly unlikely) that he’ll see any jail time at all. He’ll likely take a plea and avoid jail time. The bigger issue is his immigration status. Depending on how the case concludes, he may be restricted from coming back to the US. That can really hurt him.
Is there anything unique to New York’s legal system that might apply to this situation?
NYC is typically very good when it comes to protecting the rights of criminal defendants. What does that mean for Conor? The DA will likely not seek unjustifiably high bail at today’s arraignment. Also, the evidence will likely be turned over promptly by the DA, which will help in his defense. Then, if Conor is charged with a felony (it seems that he will be), in order for the case to proceed, he’d have to be indicted by a Grand Jury. In that case, his lawyer would have to decide whether or not Conor will testify before the Grand Jury. He is entitled to do so. I would advise against that. All it typically does is bind a defendant to a story for no reason. In a case like this, Conor will be indicted if it gets that far (the standard to indict is very low). So NYC is typically a good place to be a criminal defendant. The prosecutors usually seek justice, not convictions, and often do the right thing.
In cases like this, where there are numerous eye witnesses and video footage, how hard will it be for McGregor’s legal team to offer a defense?
And in terms of the substantive case. Defense lawyers know that there are typically three types of evidence that are hard to defend against in criminal cases: DNA, confessions and video footage. Here, the video seems pretty clear. Conor cannot claim he wasn’t there, or was acting in self-defense, or something else. Again, it seems like a carefully crafted plea would be beneficial here. But as above, the immigration consequences matter. His lawyer must be aware of that before anything else.
McGregor hasn’t fought under the UFC banner now since 2016, when he stopped Eddie Alvarez to win the lightweight title. Prior to Thursday, the expectation was that McGregor would return to the cage this fall, but in light of what transpired at media day, questions abound as to whether that will happen.