Hornets' Jeff Taylor pleads guilty to misdemeanor domestic assault

Jeff Taylor was set to join the Hornets in training camp next Tuesday prior to his arrest.
Jeff Taylor was set to join the Hornets in training camp next Tuesday prior to his arrest.

Charlotte Hornets forward Jeff Taylor has plead guilty to misdemeanor charges of domestic assault and malicious destruction of property. The charges stem from a late September incident in East Lansing, Michigan that led to an arrest for the third-year pro. The Hornets barred Taylor from all team activities before the start of training camp to allow the legal process and NBA investigation to play out.

Cleve R. Wootson Jr. of the Charlotte Observer has more details on the plea and potential aftermath:

In comments to the Observer on Tuesday, team owner Michael Jordan said the Hornets would follow the NBA’s lead in determining what punishment Taylor faces.

“We’ll have conversations with the league and follow on the heels of that,” Jordan said. “When it happened we did all the due diligences. We felt it necessary that Jeffrey step away from the team and deal with the legal situation.... We looked to take the necessary steps to prevent it and to deal with it.” [...]

Court documents indicated Taylor and prosecutors agreed on a deal Tuesday. A charge of assault and battery against a hotel employee was dropped, according to TV news station WILX.

Taylor faces a potential 93 days in jail and a $500 fine, according to the news station. The prosecutor told Judge Andrea Larkin they would not object to her allowing Taylor to participate in a probation diversion program, which could lead to the domestic violence charge being removed from his legal record, according to WILX.

Taylor, 25, said in court that he pushed his girlfriend into the wall at the Marriott Hotel in East Lansing, and the hotel room wall was damaged, the station reported.

It appears that Taylor will not serve jail time, but he figures to face a sizable suspension from the NBA and/or Hornets. The current collective bargaining agreement allows the league to suspend a player a minimum of 10 games after being convicted of a violent felony for the first time. Taylor's conviction is for a misdemeanor, which would typically suggest a lighter punishment. Yet Silver stated a need to review the NBA's domestic violence policies in the wake of several high-profile cases (and cases of organizational mismanagement) in the NFL. Taylor could face a harsher punishment than dictated by the CBA due to a changing climate around sports.

The coming suspension for Taylor — there will be something, no matter the circumstances — should indicate how Silver and the NBA intend to approach domestic violence incidents in the future. A 10-game suspension for a misdemeanor would show an increased level of seriousness, while something of lesser severity would display potentially increased attention to these matters but no special increase in punishments. It will be interesting to see the reaction to the eventual decision.

Then again, it's possible that Taylor's case just doesn't have the profile of the NFL's cases, all of which involved very good players, and therefore won't receive anywhere near the attention of previous incidents when the NBA does hand down a suspension. Taylor is a bench player coming off an Achilles tendon tear for a low-seeded playoff team that just changed its name — he's not exactly a star for a massively popular NFL franchise. The NBA's response to his court case may not only be a new normal, but also a sort of test case for the league. They might be able to afford to gauge public reaction without taking the public relations hit the NFL has experienced.

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Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at efreeman_ysports@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!