It was a series of events that made headlines across the world.
One of the most prominent figures in sport today, Conor McGregor, succumbed to a fit of rage that resulted in the damaging of a UFC fighter bus that caused injuries to several people.
I’ve seen the media lap up this story, whether it pertains to the video of the event or the charges Conor faces.
I started writing this article the morning the trail date was set. Funnily enough, I wasn’t far off the charges that Conor will testify for/against in June.
Are the click-bait articles true? Will he face multiple years in jail? Or will he walk away scott free? Read on to find out..
Before any arbitrary sanctions can be discussed, Conor faces criminal charges.
New York, like every other state in America, is governed by federal law. Punishment for criminal activity is dependent on the law governing each state.
When assessing criminal charges, it is worth looking at the events in a separate light.
1. The first event is the damage of the bus.
Criminal mischief and criminal tampering are two of the main classes of property damage in New York. There are different degrees of both, from less severe to more severe.
Criminal mischief is a general property damage charge. Criminal tampering involves interfering with a utility service or the property of a utility company.
It would be up to the New York court of law to determine whether this was a 4th or 2nd degree offence of criminal mischief. A 2nd degree offence occurs when you act with intent to damage someone else’s property where the damage is valued at more than $1,500, which I genuinely believe to be the case. This is regarded as a Class D felony which results in a prison sentence of up to 7 years.
However, I would be more inclined that due to Conor’s relatively clean slate, they would lean towards a 4th degree offence of criminal mischief. This involves an intentional damage of one’s property where the damage is in excess of $250. This carries a Class A misdemeanour, with a potential prison sentence of one year in jail and/or $1000 in fines.
2. The second event is the assault that inflicted harm on the fighters in the bus.
Three occupants reported injuries as a result of the smashed window on the bus.
Michael Chiesa suffered lacerations to the face.
Ray Borg suffered an eye injury from a small shard of glass.
An unnamed UFC official was reportedly assaulted as he tried to hold back McGregor on the offensive.
How are assault charges determined under New York penal law?
There are five categories of assault charges, but two are in relation to vehicle related injuries.
The other three regular assault charges are classed in a three-tier system. Class one and two relate to assault that led to serious injuries, which can’t be the case here.
Assault of the third degree is defined as:
“A person is guilty of assault in the third degree (3rd degree assault) where he intentionally or recklessly causes injury to another person, or if he is criminally negligent with a weapon.” – New York Legal Defense
A third degree assault charge is mainly used in the case of assault where weapons aren’t directly used and injuries are minor. This charge is usually accompanied by resulting charges of menacing, harassment and an attempt to assault. According to New York Legal Defense, these lesser charges can be used to prosecute you if the top charge is dismissed.
So, what will the punishment be for three counts of third degree assault?
Third degree assault is regarded as a misdemeanour. It can amount to a one year prison sentence – but New York law is not likely to enforce this if it is a first arrest.
More likely, McGregor will face the lesser of the punishments in relation to the third degree assault charges. This could either be up to three years of community service or a fine of up to $1000. I don’t see the New York court giving McGregor lengthy community service given his residual status outside of the U.S.
To combat the high volume of cases and general judicial cluttering, NY Law provides an alternative avenue known as a ‘plea bargain’.
A ‘plea bargain’ generally involves a defendant agreeing to plead guilty in return for receiving a lesser charge.
If McGregor is feeling bold, he can by all means plead not guilty. But the repercussions for taking a case to trial and jury is too great of a risk to take. McGregor could be risking jail time if he is found guilty in this instance.
I might not be accurate at all in my prediction, but it does not seem that McGregor will be punished with much severity. I see him taking a plea bargain and subsequently, being charged with lesser severity. He will probably face fines of no more than $2000, with the option of possibly doing community service of up to 6 months.
McGregor should count his luck that he has a clean slate, and that more damage was not caused. However, he will face some personal law suits in relation to loss of income and possibly emotional distress from the bus attack. But he has plenty of money to settle those cases with whoever takes it against him.
Will he fight in the US again?
The US impose strict immigration laws which include restrictions obtaining visas to enter the country. There are multiple reasons why a visa can be denied – including the carrying of a communicable disease, history of terrorist involvement or trafficking.
Your criminal record will also be taken in to account. Crimes that are of ‘moral turpitude’, committed at the age of 18 or over, are considered grounds for denial of entry.
The list of crimes of ‘moral turpitude’ is quite deep, but it does feature two charges in particular.
Misdemeanour – Third Degree Assault
Misdemeanour – Fourth Degree Criminal Mischief
One can apply for a waiver to have this status reassessed. The following factors will be taken in to account:
- The risk of harm to society if the applicant is admitted;
- The seriousness of the applicant’s prior criminal law or immigration law violations, if any; and
- The nature of the applicant’s reason for seeking entry.
According to O’Brien & Associates, most petty offences can be waived. What they regard as a petty offence is one “where the maximum penalty imposable is 1 year and the applicant, if convicted, served no more than 6 months.”
It seems like McGregor would fit the bill.
One would suggest McGregor’s lawyers could structure the plea bargaining agreement to involve charges that are as less impactful as possible on his visa status.
Will he fight in the UFC again?
Dana White is a business man above all else. After the incident occurred, White was visibly angered by the situation and made some heat of the moment comments regarding Conor’s future. ‘Would you want to be in business with him right now?’
As the dust settled, as many predicted, White changed his tune regarding the situation. He knows McGregor is his money fighter. He can get 2-3 big PPV’s from him for several years to come. Endeavour, UFC’s ownership company, will also be keen to keep McGregor in the fray given the money they shelled out on buying the company from the Fertittas.
But he’ll have trouble fighting in New York again.
The NYSAC will be reluctant to grant McGregor a licence given the events that have occurred.
It’s not a bad set of repercussions, given how out of hand the situation had gotten.
McGregor can count himself lucky he didn’t seriously injure anyone, or actually come in to contact with Khabib, as serious assault could have amounted to jail time.
It’s a very harsh lesson learnt. But yet another lesson – for a fighter that has had trouble facing his demons outside of the Octagon.