Former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones’ legal troubles stemming from his alleged involvement in a felony hit-and-run accident that resulted in injuries to a pregnant motorist could carry serious consequences.
The April 26 incident in Albuquerque, N.M. has already cost Jones his belt, a suspension, and endorsement deals, but the legal aspect of the situation could be far worse than what he's already faced from a career standpoint.
The universally considered top pound-for-pound fighter in the world appeared before Judge Maria Dominguez in an Albuquerque court on Tuesday, but wasn’t required to enter a plea to the charges against him.
Fox Sports 1 legal analyst Rob Becker outlined a bleak prognosis for the 27-year-old’s court case during a recent edition of UFC Tonight.
“The next step is up to the prosecution. They have to decide whether to go in front of a Grand Jury and try to get an indictment. But given that it seems clear what this guy did, and there are so many witnesses to it, I think it’s inevitable that there will be an indictment,” he said.
Becker believes Jones’ legal team is likely trying to seek a plea bargain behind closed doors.
“I think behind the scenes what could be happing is his lawyers are trying to get a plea bargain with the prosecution,” said the legal analyst.
The seriousness of Jones’ alleged crimes became crystal-clear when Becker was asked what punishment the athlete can expect.
“I think he’ll get three years. Now, the judge could knock it down to two years for mitigating circumstances, but in order for that to happen he’s going to have to show that when he left the scene of the crime he didn’t think there was any reason why there would be a serious injury,” he said. “And considering he knocked the victim’s car into another car, that’s going to pretty difficult to do.”
The charge against Jones is Knowingly Leaving the Scene of an Accident Causing Bodily Harm or Death, which is a Third Degree Felony in New Mexico. A Third Degree Felony conviction can include sentencing of up to three years imprisonment in a state prison.
If Becker were representing Jones, he’d try to get a plea deal for as little times as possible and have Jones present his best case for why he allegedly left the scene of the accident.
“I would suggest that he try to get a plea bargain for as few years as possible, maybe a year, or a year and a half. And I would try to get him to stress whatever reasons he has for trying to say, ‘hey, I left the scene because I just didn’t think there was a big deal here.’”