When Conor McGregor was arrested back in April for the ruckus he caused in the Barclays Center prior to UFC 223, everyone flew into a frenzy. UFC President Dana White said that he can’t even think about what to do with Conor next, because he may be headed to jail. That wasn’t helped when the charges levied against Conor were released. It’s true. The top count in the indictment was a D Felony, which is technically punishable by up to seven years in New York State prison. Not so fast.
Now, just three months down the line and, while Conor’s lawyers are denying it, a plea deal is likely either strongly in the works or is being finalized. Such a deal would probably keep Conor out of jail and will likely not impact his life in any significant way. In my view, Conor will get out of this case with either a misdemeanor or a violation on his record. A misdemeanor is the lowest level criminal offense in New York, but would leave Conor with a criminal record, albeit not a very serious one. A violation would be the best-case scenario and that would leave Conor without a criminal record at all. It’s also possible that the deal would be fashioned to initially have Conor plead to a misdemeanor, then satisfy certain conditions, and then “re-plead” to a violation. Amazing? Not really. Yes, Conor won’t be going to jail, but he did spend some time in a jail cell prior to his arraignment and did have to endure the American criminal justice system, which is no picnic unless you’re a lawyer making money from it. So, he likely won’t be doing this again. And if the goal of the criminal justice system is to deter future criminal conduct, it likely did that here.
But most importantly, all of the aforementioned plea deals would likely allow Conor to travel freely and not have his immigration status compromised. Which is important because we all want him back in the Octagon. However, the pleas will also likely ensure that Conor will be paying out some money in civil cases, once he’s inevitably sued by any of the numerous folks on that bus that day. That’s the way the system works, because criminal cases have a higher standard of proof than civil cases (reasonable doubt vs. preponderance of the evidence), admitting guilt in a criminal case seals the deal for the civil case. He’ll definitely be paying out some money at the end of the day here. But for a guy making millions, does that really matter?
One thing is for sure, we’ll all be watching the next time the Octagon door closes with Conor McGregor inside of it.
DMITRIY SHAKHNEVICH is a NYC lawyer, running The Law Firm of Dmitriy Shakhnevich in downtown Manhattan, and host of The Fight Lawyer Podcast on iTunes. “I always loved the fights. Unfortunately for me, in middle school, I realized that I wasn’t winning any of the fights I was involved in. So I avoided them and made the smart decision of going to law school, and doing my fighting in the courtroom. So that’s what I do now. Nonetheless, my interest in combat sports persisted. Now, I sit down with some of its most compelling figures, to hear their stories and opinions on some of the most pressing issues facing the fight game.”