Ravens running back Ray Rice's arrest and charge of simple assault-domestic violence in Atlantic City will be reviewed by the league under the NFL personal-conduct policy, according to a league source.
Under the policy, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has wide discretion on punishing players regardless of how legal situations are adjudicated. Goodell once suspended Pittsburgh Steelers star Ben Roethlisberger during the 2010 season for six games, which was later reduced to four games, after the quarterback was investigated for an alleged sexual assault in Georgia. Roethlisberger was never charged with a crime.
NFL discipline can include suspensions, fines, banishment from the league, a probationary period where conditions have to be satisfied before reinstatement or a formal reprimand.
A player doesn't have to be convicted of a crime to be punished under the NFL policy. The NFL can choose to levy discipline if the player pleads guilty or no contest to a lesser offense or disposes of a case through a diversionary program, deferred adjudication, a conditional dismissal or receives probation.
Generally, repeat offenders are dealt with much more harshly under the personal-conduct policy.
Rice has no history of off-field issues, which could work in his favor. It doesn't necessarily mean he will avoid punishment, though, as first-time offenders have been suspended in the past. Every off-field situation that falls under the NFL personal-conduct policy is judged on a case-by-case basis.
Under the rules of the NFL, players are required to promptly report any incident that might violate the personal-conduct policy to their team, and then the team must notify NFL security. Failure to report an incident is regarded as detrimental conduct by the league.
During the 2010 season, former Ravens cornerback Cary Williams was suspended for two games without pay for violating the NFL personal-conduct policy. The punishment stemmed from an incident when Williams was playing for the Tennessee Titans before joining the Ravens.
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In 2008, former Ravens cornerback Fabian Washington was suspended for one game without pay for violating the NFL personal-conduct policy.
Washington had been arrested for domestic violence involving his girlfriend.
He pleaded not guilty to the charge and was allowed to avoid prosecution by completing an intervention program for first-time offenders. It was Washington's first known off-field issue.
Rice has spoken with coach John Harbaugh about his arrest to explain what happened over the weekend in Atlantic City, according to a source.
Rice and his fiancee, Janay Palmer, were arrested over the weekend following a physical altercation between them at Revel Casino. They have been given a summons to appear in court after being booked at the Atlantic City Police Department.
Rice has yet to comment on the incident.