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The charges against Miles Bridges and how the NBA Domestic Violence policy works

Breaking down everything that could happen in this case.

Charlotte Hornets v Atlanta Hawks - Play-In Tournament Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Miles Bridges was poised to be one of the most sought-after players in NBA free agency, but that’s no longer important. Bridges is now the focus of felony domestic violence charges, with the Hornets forward arrested formally charged on Tuesday night in Los Angeles on one count of “injuring a child’s parent” and two “felony counts of child abuse under circumstances or conditions likely to cause great bodily injury or death.”

George Gascón, Los Angeles County District Attorney said in a statement:

“Domestic violence creates physical, mental and emotional trauma that has a lasting impact on survivors. Children who witness family violence are especially vulnerable and the impact on them is immeasurable. Mr. Bridges will be held accountable for his actions and our Bureau of Victim Services will support the survivors through this difficult process.”

The chargers puts the NBA’s entire domestic violence policy under the microscope, and so far the league has been silent. The only official statement released by any league entities have come from the Hornets, who are distancing themselves from Bridges while the legal process plays out.

In the absence of any proposed punishment from the NBA or the Hornets, here’s what we know about charges against Bridges, what is being said by his accuser, and how this could potentially play out considering what we know about the league’s domestic violence protocol as it stands.

The allegations against Miles Bridges

On the night of Tuesday, June 28, an alleged argument between Bridges and his wife, Mychelle Johnson turned violent, according to a victim statement to the LAPD obtained by TMZ. Johnson was hospitalized following the incident, and a warrant for Bridges arrest was issued by police.

Bridges turned himself in to police shortly after 2 p.m. PT on Wednesday, and formally charged with “felony domestic violence.” Under California Penal Code Section 243(e)(1) this charge is brought when a victim shows sign of injury and police believe these injuries were caused by a domestic partner or co-habitant.

Bridges posted a $130K bond for his release and neither he nor agent Rich Paul made any statements regarding the arrest.

On Thursday night Johnson posted detailed photos of her injuries, as well as a copy of the hospital report that found she had suffered assault by strangulation, concussion, a fractured nose, and various bruising. We will not embed the photos here out of respect to those triggered by photos of domestic violence, but they can be found here. In addition Johnson posted a video of a conversation with the couple’s son, who recounted the incident, saying “daddy choked mommy,” and adding that Bridges threw his wife’s phone out the window in during the argument.

Johnson alleges that abuse has been happening for a long time in their relationship, saying in the caption to her post.

“I hate that it has come to this but I can’t be silent anymore. I’ve allowed someone to destroy my home, abuse me in every way possible and traumatize our kids for life. I have nothing to prove to the world, but I won’t allow anyone who could do something so horrible to have no remorse and paint a picture of something I’m not. I won’t allow the people around him to continue to silence me and continue to lie to protect this person. It’s unethical, it’s immoral, it’s truly SICK. It hurts my heart because I’ve always had hope, and so much love and as scary as this is for me to do it’s time I stand up for myself. I won’t be silent to protect others anymore because I value myself and my kids more than anyones ‘image’.… a fracture nose, wrist, torn eardrum, torn muscles in my neck from being choked until i went to sleep and a severe concussion. I don’t need sympathy, I just don’t want this happening to anyone else, I just want this person to get help, my kids deserve better. That’s all i want. It hurts, everything hurts, this situation hurts, most importantly I’m scared and hurting for my kids who were witness to everything. Please respect my families privacy and stop with the disgusting rumors and allegations.”

Bridges posted video of himself playing basketball on Thursday afternoon. No mention of the charges was made.

What is the NBA’s policy on domestic violence?

The 2017 collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and NBAPA gives tremendous leniency to players in the case of an arrest. Teams are not allowed to punish players for arrests, but can punish them based on the underlying events of their arrest — provided they’re able to establish an “independent basis for doing so.”

More important as it pertains to Bridges is Article VI, Section 16 — which established that “[t]he Joint NBA/NBAPA Policy on Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse” would continue unaltered. This policy is exceptionally vague when it comes to actual punishment levied against players, with the only mention of actual suspension coming in the event of a player failing to cooperate with league investigators.

In a practical sense the league is mandated to select a three-member panel and open an investigation into the charges against Bridges. There is no timeline for this investigation, however Adam Silver is given the power to place a player on administrative leave, barring a player from any team activities until the investigation is complete. Even reaching this point is difficult though, because there is a codified supposition of innocence when it comes to a player being regarded as a nice guy inside the league. The policy requires Silver to consider “the character of the player,” and “the player’s reputation within the NBA community” in making a determination whether a player can be placed on administrative leave.

These “character” factors are also to be used in a determination of punishment following the resolution of the investigative panel. In addition, if a player is put on administrative leave the CBA mandates that time spent on leave must be credited towards any suspension. This practically means that, say Bridges is placed on leave starting today, and suppose he’s found guilty in October. If the NBA were to suspend him for one year he would be reinstated in June of 2023 when the administrative leave began, not when the suspension for domestic violence began.

What happens next?

The NBA must establish their investigative panel to look into the charges against Bridges. Outside of that, essentially nothing. The vague nature of the CBA as it pertains to domestic violence means that nothing is required of Bridges outside of participating in the investigation.

Teams are free to continue free agency with Bridges as normal. As a restricted free agent, he had been extended a qualifying offer by the Hornets prior to his arrest, but no other team at this time has signed him to an offer sheet. It remains to be seen whether any organization will decide to try and sign Bridges with the charges against him, but nothing is stopping business as usual.