Friday October 31st, 2014

The Santa Clara County district attorney's office is "leaning against" bringing charges of domestic violence against San Francisco 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald, reports the San Jose Mercury News.

According to the report, the office is expected to announce its decision soon in a report detailing the reasons for its decision. Prosecutors did not comment on McDonald's case in the report.

McDonald was arrested at the end of August for an alleged domestic violence incident involving his pregnant fiancée at the couple's home. The arrest made headlines, as it was the first domestic violence-related arrest to occur after the NFL announced its new domestic violence policy.

The new rules, established in the wake of a backlash against the two-game suspension given to then-Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, mandate a six-game ban for a first offense and a lifetime ban for a second offense. 

Shortly after McDonald's arrest, the video showing Rice striking his then-fiancée in an Atlantic City casino elevator was released, leading to his indefinite suspension from the NFL and release from the Ravens. Calls grew louder for other players involved in domestic violence, such as McDonald and Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy, to face stricter punishment as well.

49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and CEO Jed York have maintained that McDonald wouldn't be punished by the team until more evidence and information were available, and he has continued to play.

At the beginning of the month, police turned their investigation of the McDonald incident over to prosecutors, who were to review the information and decide whether to proceed. The Mercury News reports that there are several factors in the district attorney's office's decision to likely not prosecute McDonald:

Legal experts have said the May incident also forced prosecutors to examine the woman's history of aggression, if any. She has retained her own lawyer in the matter.

The case also has been complicated by the actions of Sgt. Sean Pritchard, a San Jose police officer who was moonlighting with team security. Pritchard had attended a party at McDonald's house shortly before the incident. Apparently responding to a phone call from McDonald after the incident, he returned to the home in uniform and on duty -- before other officers arrived in response to a 911 call.

It's unclear when the district attorney's office will announce its decision.

McDonald, 30, has 18 tackles in seven games for the 49ers this season.

Ben Estes

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.