After months of speculation and a previous court date, former UFC dual champion Conor McGregor finally has a resolution regarding his incident prior to UFC 223. While it surprised a lot of people that expected a harsher penalty, some others had predicted that this would not be a complicated matter for the Irish talent.
Among those was attorney Dmitriy Shakhnevich, who we’ve spoken to before regarding this case. Now that we’ve reached the end of his court obligations for now, he’s given us some insight into just what this means and just how good a deal McGregor ultimately got.
Victor Rodriguez: Well, you pretty much called it. He’s gonna get community service and a very minor penalty than what a lot of people expected. What do you think of this?
Dmitiy Shakhnevich: It’s not out of the ordinary. Again, he was charged with two lower-level felonies, he’s a guy that would serve no criminal justice purpose in jail. He’s someone that the district attorney’s office would correctly probably view as not being all that dangerous, meaning that he’s not going to be a habitual offender. And he is and probably will be in Brooklyn, but the risk to reoffend is probably low — although he’s fairly young. So his interests, or the justice system’s interests best served would be community service, some form of community outreach, anger management, you know? But he will stay without a criminal record, which is great. I mean, it’s the best he could have hoped for, for all practical purposes. It’ll preserve all of his rights and his life and his career will go on untouched.
VR: Then in that case, what else would need to happen going forward? Are there any other requirements or is everything fine as long as he keeps with his court-mandated obligations?
DS: Yeah, as long as he satisfies everything, the case is as it’s called, a “conditional discharge“. What that means is that he does everything that he’s supposed to and provides proof to the court, that at that point the case would be closed up and sealed, and that would be that.
And what I mean by that is that he has to do community service and make sure he does that community service, that he completes his anger management, and he has to not get rearrested again. That’s sort of a given.
VR: Right. I don’t think any of us can predict if he will ever fight in Brooklyn again, but would it be in the best interests of everyone involved that he not?
DS: No, the purpose of this whole thing is to make sure that he can do anything at any time, right? I mean, the whole purpose of this plea, like I said, from the very beginning, is that the threat of going to jail never existed. The purpose of this whole plea was that he could fight anywhere, that he could travel anywhere. The main issue is — and it’s actually pretty funny — is that he will be orders of protection in favor of Chiesa, Borg and some of the other guys. So it’s a matter of housekeeping. The UFC’s gonna have to make sure that they don’t keep them in the same place at the same time, because that would make Conor in violation of the order.
VR: It may not be fair to ask you to address the possibility of any civil suits, but even though this was a criminal matter, are there any lines you can draw from that?
DS: Yeah, I can’t talk as to the money. I don’t know how much they’re gonna be asking for, that’s a matter of intricate damage analysis that lawyers are going to have to conduct. But the fact that he did admit guilt in a criminal proceeding — to convict in a criminal court, you need proof beyond a reasonable doubt, to a very high standard. In a civil case, it’s proof by the preponderance of the evidence, which more likely than not means that anything that he’s admitted to in criminal court can be used in admitted in a civil case. You see how that works?
DS: Because the standard is higher than in the civil case because the standard is higher than admitted in the lower standard case. So because he admitted guilt, now the floodgates are virtually open. I mean, if he (Chiesa) can — if he sued, which he will be, and he should be — then at that point, he’ll (McGregor) have no defense. If before I thought he’d settle in civil suits, now I’m positive that he will because on the law, he has no way out.
DS: But that is a small price to pay, I mean that is... you know, we’re talking this plea and saving millions in a future fight, so he can swallow this one.
VR: Yeah, I guess he’s gonna have to eat it. Is there anything that could have — at least from your point of view — that maybe his legal team could have handled better? I know it’s probably a difficult or silly thing to ask, because he got off so, so light. There wasn’t any major legal consequence that would interrupt his fighting career for long, but was there anything that could have been done differently?
DS: I mean, I guess they could have pushed for a dismissal. That’s the only thing that’s better than what they got. That is, for all practical purposes, impossible because the evidence was just so against him. There’s videos of this happening, there’s nothing anybody could have done. So they disposed of the case as well as they possibly could have. I thought it was going to be a two-step. I thought it was going to be a plea for the crime, and once he satisfied these conditions, he could re-plea to the violation. But they got even better, they went straight for the violation and they’ll never have to even have a criminal record at all, much less one that sticks around.
Dmitriy Shakhnevich is a Brooklyn attorney and host of the Fight Lawyer podcast available via iTunes and Soundcloud. You can follow him on Twitter as well.