NEW ROCHELLE - Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, of New Rochelle, has received initial approval to enter a court program that could result in dismissal of a criminal charge against him in New Jersey.
The decision announced Tuesday relates to an aggravated assault charge Rice faces following a Feb. 15 incident with his then-girlfriend in an Atlantic City casino elevator. The alleged incident captured on surveillance cameras shows Rice dragging an unconscious Jenay Palmer out of an elevator.
Initially both Rice and Palmer were charged with simple assault, but charges against Palmer were quickly dropped.
The couple married on March 28, a day after Rice was indicted. Palmer did not press charges.
Atlantic County Acting Prosecutor Jim McClain says the decision was made after his office "considered all relevant information."
The pretrial intervention program allows for charges to be dismissed against first-time offenders who participate in it and meet certain conditions. The program takes about a year to complete, but it would mean no jail time. The arrest would still stay on Rice's record, but without the conviction.
A judge must give final approval before Rice can enter the program. If convicted of the charge, Rice could face three to five years in prison.
Rice could also still face discipline from the NFL, including a suspension. Baltimore Ravens officials say the seventh-year running back will definitely be back for the 2014 season.
Students and parents at New Rochelle High School say the superstar alum deserves the benefit of the doubt. Others say they hope Rice has learned his lesson.
AP wires were used in this report.