There are a couple of updates we can add to the Adrian Peterson case that will help contextualize what we can expect from Montgomery County and the NFL in regards to sentencing and suspensions.
Montgomery County held a press conference earlier today. They indicated that the trial will be held in 2015, which is consistent with what we’ve heard from those who have had experience with Texas law as it relates to child injury in other cases. The charge of criminal negligence or reckless injury to a child carries a penalty of up to two years in jail (not the 2-10 year charge reported earlier, because it is a “State Jail felony” instead of the more serious “Felony 2” that was misreported by Michael McCann.
State Jail felonies are typically plead out to probation, and with a powerful and effective lawyer like Rusty Hardin, expect no jail time for Adrian Peterson.
The NFL has decided to review the Adrian Peterson case under the personal conduct policy instead of the newly-minted domestic violence policy. This is probably the case for a few reasons: 1) the domestic violence policy, as written in the memo to owners, is very specific to spousal abuse, with only one passing reference to children, which refers to harsher punishments in the “presence of a child,” and applying that standard to an instance of child injury instead of spousal violence near a child subjects the new policy to a lot of lawyering that the league may not be comfortable with. 2) It grants the league a lot of leeway in doling out the punishment, as there is full league discretion for how many suspensions a player can serve.
Contrary to media reports, the grand jury never no-billed Adrian Peterson, according to Montgomery County. This means any speculation, however little it is worth, based on the understanding of two grand juries us even more useless than it was.
Peterson’s first court date hasn’t been finalized but it will be within the next couple of weeks. Peterson currently counts against the 53-man roster.
Judd Zulgad has speculated that the Vikings will handle this case much like they did the Chris Cook case and I think the speculation is on-point (it is shared by other beat writers as well):
As far as how the Vikings might proceed, that could get interesting. There is precedent for how the organization acts in such cases. In 2011, former Vikings cornerback Chris Cook was charged with felony strangulation following his October arrest for domestic assault after an incident involving his girlfriend that took place in Eden Prairie.
Cook was suspended for one game before being reinstated to the 53-man roster. Despite the fact that meant Cook was being paid, the team told him to stay away from Winter Park for the remainder of the season. Cook ended up missing the final 10 games.
The collective-bargaining agreement permits an organization to suspend a player for four games for conduct detrimental to the team. If the Vikings wanted to, they could suspend Peterson for the next four games and then reinstate him but not use him.
Cook was found not guilty in a jury trial on all counts in March 2012, meaning the Vikings could discipline Peterson long before any trial date is set in his case in Texas.
Expect a short-term suspension from the Vikings until the NFL acts, with any non-suspension time served away from the team despite a nominal place on the roster. During his team suspension, he would not count against the roster.
If you want to know about the game or fantasy impact of the Peterson news, bang it here.