Morgan Wallen Could Face 6 Years in Prison — but There's a 'Very Remote' Chance He Will, Says Legal Expert (2024)

Criminal defense attorney David Raybin says he doesn't see Wallen going to jail for two years, but notes he may receive some sort of sentence to send a message

Morgan Wallen Could Face 6 Years in Prison — but There's a 'Very Remote' Chance He Will, Says Legal Expert (1)

When Morgan Wallen allegedly threw a chair off the roof of Chief’s bar in Nashville on the night of April 7, the chair landed on the ground near two police officers.

Because of that — and because of the caliber of Wallen’s country music fame — his situation becomes a bit more complicated than the average offender.

Wallen, 30, was arrested and charged with three counts of reckless endangerment, which are Class E felonies, and disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor. The felony charges could carry one to two years in prison per count, as well as probation.

Nashville-based criminal defense attorney and legal expert David Raybin tells PEOPLE that while Wallen could technically face up to six years in prison because of the three counts, the chances of him being sentenced to the maximum and serving all of those sentences consecutively are “very remote” (Sentences can be served consecutively, meaning one after the other, or concurrently, meaning at the same time).

“I seriously doubt how he would get consecutive time,” says Raybin, who is not involved in Wallen’s case. “It’s based on prior record and extreme dangerousness of the offense: professional, criminal, sex offense. It’s a pretty limited category. Generally speaking, this would not be consecutive. [Wallen’s] is a serious offense — I don’t want to minimize it, but still, he probably would not be eligible for consecutive sentences. It’s probably a maximum of two years assuming he was not put on probation.”

Related: Morgan Wallen 'Doesn't Know When to Stop' Drinking: 'Problem That Keeps Coming Around' (Exclusive Source)

Morgan Wallen Could Face 6 Years in Prison — but There's a 'Very Remote' Chance He Will, Says Legal Expert (2)

Still, because the incident involved police officers, he may face a “harsher sanction,” says Raybin.

“That chair could have fallen on them, and they could have been killed,” he says.

Then there’s the fact that Wallen is a music superstar. Because of that, Raybin says, there will be debate over just how the star’s case should be handled.

“The question is going to be, because he’s a celebrity, should he be treated differently, either too lightly or too harshly?” says Raybin. “The prosecutor tries to steer a middle course in these cases. You don’t want to just say, ‘Well, we’ll give you a $10 fine.’ And on the other hand, you don’t want to say, ‘Well, because police officers, country music guy, we’re going to toss you in prison for two years.’”

He continues: “The challenge is going to be for both sides to reach a disposition that’s fair and appropriate. Throwing a chair off a building and in proximity of police officers, that’s a darn serious thing. It’s very serious because the officers could have been severely hurt. What you want to do is you want to deter that kind of behavior.”

Raybin says he won’t speculate on just how Wallen’s case will pan out, but notes that he’s seen cases where sentences are split, meaning an offender may serve 10 days in jail and the rest on probation.

“Sometimes they require split confinement, which is some modest amount of incarceration to say, ‘This is just wrong,’ and then the rest on probation,” he says. “I don’t see him going to jail for two years, but I don’t see him getting a completely probated sentence either. They may want to have some degree of incarceration — this is a really serious thing. It’s the risk that’s punishable, not what actually happened.”

Related: Morgan Wallen's Ex KT Smith Hopes He Returns to the 'Good Path That He Was On' After Nashville Arrest

Morgan Wallen Could Face 6 Years in Prison — but There's a 'Very Remote' Chance He Will, Says Legal Expert (3)

There’s also a chance Wallen is put on diversion, which would mean his record gets expunged after he pleads guilty and completes probation.

“[Diversion] is usually how those cases are disposed of, except for the fact that you’ve got police officers involved here, which aggravates the case a lot,” he says.

Wallen is scheduled to appear in court on May 3 — the same day he’ll play Nashville’s Nissan Stadium, which has a capacity of 69,000 people. Raybin says that on that day, the case will get continued and moved to a real court date.

The “One Thing at a Time” singer allegedly tossed a chair from the roof of Chief’s bar just before 11 p.m. local time on April 7.

The bar is owned by Wallen’s friend and fellow country singer Eric Church with AJ Capital Partners., and celebrated its grand opening on April 5.

Wallen's attorney, Worrick Robinson, told PEOPLE in a statement that he is "cooperating" with police.

“At 10:53p Sunday evening Morgan Wallen was arrested in downtown Nashville for reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct," the statement reads. "He is cooperating fully with authorities.”

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Morgan Wallen Could Face 6 Years in Prison — but There's a 'Very Remote' Chance He Will, Says Legal Expert (2024)
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