Sacramento Kings forward Ron Artest pleaded no contest Thursday to a misdemeanor domestic violence charge stemming from a March 5 dispute with his wife, the latest in a string of off-court problems, according to an Associated Press news report posted on the ESPN website.
A judge sentenced the NBA player to 100 hours of community service and a 10-day work project. Artest was also ordered to pay a $600 fine and get extensive counseling, including a year-long violence treatment program. He is also to attend a parenting class about the effects of domestic violence on children. The judge modified the restraining order that has kept Artest away from his wife, Kimsha and their three children since last month’s incident at their $1.9 million mansion in Loomis, which is 25 miles north of Sacramento.
According to the change, Artest will be allowed to have “peaceful contact” with his wife and resume unrestricted contact with his children. The judge also said that Kimsha Artest had requested through her attorney that all restrictions on their contact be lifted.
Artest was accused of grabbing, pushing and slapping his wife during an argument. He also reportedly prevented her from calling 911. The couple’s 3-year-old daughter was home at the time. Artest was charged with corporal injury to a spouse, battery, false imprisonment and dissuading a witness from reporting a crime — all misdemeanors. He pleaded no contest to the first charge, while the others were dismissed, although they could be brought back if he violates the terms of his three-year probation.
Artest’s attorneys told reporters that he was “in heaven” to be reunited with his kids.
According to the report, sheriff’s deputies had previously responded to at least two other domestic disturbance calls at Artest’s home. They had responded five times to 911 calls from the residence since August, the article said. Artest apologized to his family and his teammates and sat out two games after he was charged for the March incident. He was not suspended from the team, but he may face disciplinary action from the league now that his criminal case is settled.
Artest’s history with anger and violence is disturbing. In 2004, he was suspended from the Indiana Pacers for 73 games and lost nearly $5 million in earnings after he bounded on to the stands and threw punches during a brawl with Pistons fans. He and teammate Stephen Jackson were sentenced to one year of probation and 60 hours of community service after pleading no contest to misdemeanor assault charges.
Artest’s track record with violent behavior is interesting. Although he received national media attention because he is an NBA star, Artest and his family are not alone. Every year across the country, about 4 million people are the victims of assault by someone they know, be it married couples, couples in a relationship or family members. Even an accusation of domestic violence bears grave consequences on the defendant’s family, work, financial, emotional and psychological well-being.
Although cruel perpetrators must be punished, there are also men and women who are unfairly and wrongfully accused of acts they did not commit. It is important to hire a knowledgeable and aggressive attorney to defend your rights. Who you hire could make the difference between jail time or having your charges dropped or avoiding jail time.