While Johnson was originally charged with a misdemeanor for which he’d be unlikely to see the wrong side of the bars, his slapping a girlfriend in 2000 in California could force authorities here to upgrade the current case to a felony — with possibly 12 months in the big house!
Word is Johnson, formerly Ochocinco, pleaded no contest to assaulting that woman, whom he accused of cheating. Just weeks later, he reported to Oregon State University to play college ball.
Eventually, Johnson, 34, was sentenced to community service, which included cleaning up graffiti. He completed his debt to society in 2002 and went on to play for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Because of that prior incident, however, the Broward County State Attorney now could kick the current charge up to a felony, and mandatory prison.
“Florida law indeed gives that power to prosecutors,” said Fort Lauderdale attorney Paul Molle. Molle isn’t representing Johnson but specializes in domestic violence cases. “Whether the previous incident happened in California or Florida, it doesn’t make a difference. I’ve seen it done with other suspects.”
It’s unclear whether prosecutors are planning to do that with Johnson.
“Our office does not disclose our filing options with the media before charges are filed,” said State Attorney spokesman Ron Ishoy.
Johnson’s lawyer didn’t comment.
He is accused of head-butting wife Evelyn Lozada, a star of the VH1 reality show Basketball Wives. She has filed for divorce.