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Chris Brown is out and about, but it's the behind-the-scenes action that may determine where he goes in the future.
Sources close to the negotiations tell E! News that the R&B star's attorneys are in talks with the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office about a possible plea deal that would see Brown wind up with probation—rather than jail time—for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend Rihanna on Feb. 8.
Although the D.A. just received the case from the Los Angeles Police Department today, Brown's A-list defense attorney Mark Geragos began powwowing with prosecutors earlier in the week.
"Geragos was downtown meeting with the D.A. on Monday," says a legal source.
The source says lawyers are discussing a deal that would keep Brown a free man if he pleads guilty to a misdemeanor, but it's unclear whether prosecutors, who had been asking for felony-caliber evidence against the singer, and Brown's team will compromise.
A plea deal can be a "smart move," particularly in a domestic violence case, "because it's the type of crime where the defendant is more villianized than say a bar fight, and so the less the media knows about the strength of the prosecution's case, the easier to convince them to reduce or dismiss or recharge with a lesser offense," criminal defense attorney Daniel Perlman, who is not working on the Brown case, tells E! News.
While he couldn't say for certain whether a deal seemed likely, Perlman says that it doesn't hurt to try.
"Here, the publicity about [Rihanna's] injuries was sufficient to make me doubt that the L.A. D.A. can reasonably let this go as a misdemeanor without some jail without this looking like a celebrity exception," he says.
"On the other hand, a negotiated settlement with a delayed sentencing can sometimes be had, where he pleas to a felony which will be reduced to a misdemeanor in, for example, a year if he does all the classes and community service, etc."
A law-enforcement source close to the investigation tells E! News that, after asking the Los Angeles Police Department for more evidence, the D.A.'s case for felony domestic abuse, criminal threats and battery has proved rather thin.
"They have a victim who's back together with her alleged attacker, and some conflicting statements from each side," says the source. "It's not the slam dunk they hoped it would be."
Rihanna and Brown reunited in Miami last week; sources tell us that the pair flew back to Los Angeles Sunday night and have checked into a Beverly Hills hotel.
Perlman points out, however, that prosecutors routinely take domestic violence cases to trial after an alleged victim has recanted previous statements.
"It happens all the time and does not deter prosecutors," Perlman says. "Here, she was clearly injured, and there is enough evidence to proceed with or without her cooperation."
A law-enforcement source says that Geragos is working with prosecutors in hopes that Brown will be able to plea to a lesser charge when he is arraigned.
Neither Geragos nor Brown's publicist returned calls seeking comment. A spokeswoman for the D.A. would not confirm that Geragos was there or that he's met with prosecutor.
Arraignment is set for Thursday. D.A.'s Office spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons tells E! News that Brown must appear if no deal is reached beforehand.
"He does have to show up tomorrow unless arrangements are made with the court," she says, and "nothing has been filed yet."
—Additional reporting by Ken Baker
(Originally published March 4, 2009 at 3:26 p.m. PT.)