Former Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight titleholder Quinton "Rampage" Jackson -- the subject of a high-speed chase with police in California last month -- faces charges that include one felony count of evading while driving recklessly, one felony count of evading a peace officer and driving against traffic, three misdemeanor counts of hit and run with property damage, and one misdemeanor count of reckless driving.
If convicted, he could face up to three years in prison.
Present in court on Thursday, Jackson entered a plea of not guilty. A date for a pretrial was scheduled for Oct. 9, and a preliminary hearing on Nov. 3. He remains out of custody on bail of $25,000.
Although the investigation into Jackson's case is ongoing, Orange County District Attorney spokesperson Farrah Emami told MMAWeekly.com, "We've filed our charges. We don't believe that there would be additional charges filed unless there was new evidence."
As for Jackson's not guilty plea, Emami said that was not surprising. In fact, it is in line with how most defendants go through the legal process. "It's common. Any case that goes to a pretrial or preliminary hearing or a trial stage, the defendant pleads not guilty in order to move through the process in that way. So more often than not, defendants plead not guilty."
Despite his status as a celebrity due to his fighting career, Jackson shouldn't expect to be treated any differently than other defendants either. Yes, because of who he is, his face was plastered all over the media, including celebrity gossip and news website TMZ.com.
"Absolutely not," stated Emami about any special handling in Jackson's case, however. "We're charging this case against based on the crimes that were committed, and our job is to make sure that we charge cases fairly. So in this case, we took the evidence, we took the actions of the defendant, and we made a criminal filing decision based on what Mr. Jackson did."
With the pretrial scheduled for October and preliminary hearing in November, it is too early in the case to estimate a time frame for Jackson's case. If it goes to a full trial, the outcome is open ended.
"That would depend on how the case plays out. If this case goes to trial, it could take any amount of time just depending on the availability of parties, including the prosecution, the defense, and the judge," informed Emami.
In the meantime, according to a report by Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports, Jackson and UFC President Dana White are planning for the former champion to continue his fight career amidst the legal proceedings.
White told Iole that Jackson would fight and that he and UFC Chairman LorenzoFertitta stood behind their fighter. They spent the better part of the day on Monday working out details for his return and ideas for an opponent.
Current speculation has him returning to the Octagon on Nov. 15 at UFC 91 in Portland, Ore. No opponent has been named, but rumors have zeroed in on Mauricio "Shogun" Rua if his knee is healthy enough for him to compete.