In yet another run-in with the law, singer Chris Brown made headlines for an arrest in Paris, France, on suspicion of rape. Details are still sparse. Brown and two others (including a bodyguard) had apparently met the 24-year-old accuser at a Parisian nightclub. She accompanied them to the 5-star Mandarin Oriental Hotel, where the alleged incident took place. Brown was briefly detained, then released with no charges filed. The investigation is still ongoing.
A brief history of not-so-brief legal trouble
Brown is no stranger to the criminal justice system in the United States. He pled guilty in 2009 to felony assault in a high-profile case involving Rihanna. A few years later, he was convicted of misdemeanor assault for attacking a fan. Then, in 2016, Brown allegedly beat a woman at a Las Vegas party, and in a separate incident, was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly threatening another woman with a gun. No charges were filed in either case. In 2017, a model secured a 5-year civil restraining order against Brown on grounds that he had made violent threats against her. And Brown is currently facing misdemeanor charges in Los Angeles for having a pet monkey without a proper permit. (Investigators confiscated the animal after Brown posted an Instagram photo of his daughter cuddling with the cute little capuchin.)
This isn’t even Brown’s first foray into international legal trouble. In 2015, he was detained in the Philippines on a fraud complaint involving a canceled show. Owing to his criminal record, Brown can no longer perform shows in Australia, New Zealand or the UK.
How the French system is a whole new ballgame
If charges were to move forward in France, navigating them would be a very different ball game than in the United States. Defendants have different rights in France than in the United States. Notably, the French have an “inquisitorial” rather than adversarial justice system. In serious cases such as rape, a juge d’instruction or examining judge conducts much of the investigation (rather than law enforcement as in the United States). This judge reviews the evidence, questions witnesses and decides whether there are grounds to move forward. If the case were to move forward to a cour d’assises or criminal court, a plea bargain would be unlikely. Most criminal cases in France go before a jury composed of both laypeople and judges.
While it remains to be seen if anything comes from the arrest, Brown himself has declared in no uncertain terms (in all-caps punctuated with profanities, to be specific) that the accuser is lying, and his French attorney has vowed to pursue a slander case against the woman.