Rice initially faced a charge of simple assault for allegedly hitting fiancée Janay Palmer at the Revel Casino on Feb. 15. A video showed Rice dragging Palmer out of an elevator. However, prosecutors filed the more serious charge with the grand jury, which — if convicted — could carry a prison sentence of three to five years in prison, according to the Baltimore Sun.
According to a press release from the prosecutors, Rice was "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 Ravens, including head coach John Harbaugh and owner Steve Bisciotti, disapproved of Rice's behavior but said at this week's NFL owners meetings that they firmly stood behind the former All-Pro running back.
The team issued a statement following the prosecutors' increased charge and appeared to maintain its support:
Ravens' statement on Rice indictment: “This is part of the due process for Ray. We know there is more to Ray Rice than this one incident.”— Baltimore Sun Sports (@BaltSunSports) March 27, 2014
Simple assault charges previously had been filed against Palmer stemming from the same incident, but those have been dropped.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was asked about potential punishment for Rice before the new charge was filed, and he said the league has no timetable to announce any discipline in the case. Even if not convicted, Rice could face discipline from the league under the players' conduct code.
"We’ll let the facts dictate that," Goodell said.
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