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Why Did Chris Brown Go to Prison?

Chris Brown is one of the most successful R&B artists of the 2000s, selling over 100 million records worldwide. However, Brown has also been embroiled in numerous controversies throughout his career. Most notably, he pled guilty to felony assault of his then-girlfriend Rihanna in 2009. As a result, Chris Brown has spent time in jail or prison on three separate occasions. This article will provide background on Chris Brown’s music career, summarize the incidents that led to incarceration, and analyze the impact prison has had on his life and reputation.

Chris Brown’s Music Career Before Legal Troubles

Chris Brown grew up in Virginia where he showed early singing talent performing in his church choir. At just 16 years old in 2005, Brown signed to Jive Records and released his self-titled debut album which went double platinum. It included hit singles “Run It!” and “Yo (Excuse Me Miss)” that showed off Brown’s smooth vocals and dance moves.

Over the next four years, Chris Brown became one of the premier R&B stars with a string of Top 10 albums and singles like “With You”, “Kiss Kiss”, “Forever” and “No Air.” His third album, 2009’s Graffiti, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts. Brown seemed poised to rule the charts for years to come before the assault altered his career.

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The Assault, Arrest and Prison Time

On the eve of the 2009 Grammy Awards, Chris Brown brutally assaulted his girlfriend at the time, megastar Rihanna. He punched, bit and choked her during an argument, leaving her bloodied and bruised.

Brown turned himself in to LAPD and was arrested on suspicion of making criminal threats. He was later formally charged with felony assault likely to cause great bodily injury. In June 2009, Brown pled guilty to the charges and was sentenced to five years probation plus community service and domestic violence counseling.

However, in 2012 Brown was arrested after failing to complete the community service requirements of his plea deal. He was briefly jailed for probation violation before the court reinstated his probation.

Then in early 2014, Brown was arrested and jailed for violating his probation by getting kicked out of the rehab facility he was ordered to attend. In May 2014, Brown admitted violating probation and was sentenced to 131 days in jail, where he served 108 days before being released.

Impact on Brown’s Career and Life

Chris Brown being convicted and sentenced for assault severely damaged his squeaky clean image. The domestic violence also made him a pariah among some fans and brands:

  • Several of Brown’s endorsement deals were terminated
  • His music was boycotted by some radio stations
  • Album sales declined compared to his pre-assault popularity
  • Television and award show performances were canceled
  • He was not allowed to enter certain countries due to his criminal record
  • Overall popularity and reputation never fully recovered
  • Financial resources drained by legal fees and settlements
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Brown’s career was clearly stifled by the backlash over the assault, despite continuing to record successful albums and tour.

Brown’s Career After Prison

Since being released from jail in 2014, Chris Brown has worked to rehabilitate his image and remain successful in music:

  • He has released three increasingly popular studio albums in Heartbreak on a Full Moon, Indigo, and Breezy.
  • Brown has racked up over 30 Top 40 singles as a lead or featured artist since 2014.
  • He has done several successful collaborative tours with artists like 50 Cent, Trey Songz and Drake.
  • Residency concerts in Las Vegas and other high profile events have kept him in the public eye.
  • Brown signed a new deal with RCA Records in 2022 to renew his recording prospects.
  • He has used social media to showcase his parenting and a more positive public persona.

While Brown’s popularity is not at its peak, he has arguably rebuilt it stronger than many expected given the severity of the assault.

Key Factors Behind Chris Brown’s Arrests

There are a few key factors that contributed to Chris Brown’s serious legal troubles and stints in jail:

  • Immaturity and lack of anger management – Brown was very young with little impulse control when he assaulted Rihanna.
  • Trauma and possible undiagnosed mental illness – Brown allegedly suffered past trauma that led to emotional issues.
  • Drug abuse – Brown has alluded to abusing marijuana and alcohol as part of the 2009 assault.
  • Enabling by handlers – Brown’s team failed to steer him away from violence and drug use early on.
  • Failure to learn after first arrest – Brown continued displaying erratic behavior rather than changing his ways.
  • Celebrity privilege backlash – The justice system came down hard on Brown to make an example out of a famous abuser.
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Brown’s incarcerations stemmed from violent tendencies that were enabled until they resulted in serious criminal charges he could not evade.


Chris Brown saw his incredibly successful music career put in jeopardy due to multiple arrests stemming from the felony assault of Rihanna in 2009. He was sentenced to 5 years probation initially but ended up spending over 100 days in jail due to two probation violations.

Brown’s domestic violence conviction seriously damaged his wholesome image and endorsement potential. However, he has managed to gradually rebuild his popularity despite some continued controversies. Brown remains one of the most successful R&B artists of his era thanks to his undeniable vocal and dancing talent.

But his legal troubles and incarcerations will forever be part of his story and reputation as well. Brown’s career and life may have turned out very differently had he been able to control his emotions, temper, and drug use early on and avoided assaulting Rihanna that fateful night.

Prison Inside Team

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Welcome to ‘Prison Inside,’ a blog dedicated to shedding light on the often hidden and misunderstood world within correctional facilities. Through firsthand accounts, personal narratives, and insightful reflections, we delve into the lives of those who find themselves behind bars, offering a unique perspective on the challenges, triumphs, and transformations that unfold within the confines of these walls.

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