The dismissal of criminal charges against Eagles running back Dion Lewis initially was reported as just that — an unequivocal, no-strings-attached dismissal.
On closer review, it’s not quite that clear of a slam-dunk win for Lewis and his brother, Lamar.
According to the Albany Times-Union, Dion and Lamar Lewis will see the charges against them reduced from a felony and a misdemeanor to a pair of misdemeanors that are then dismissed only if they stay out of trouble for six months.
While the distinction won’t mean anything from a criminal-justice perspective if Dion Lewis can indeed stay out of trouble, the agreement puts Lewis in line for a review under the NFL’s personal-conduct policy. By its plain terms, the policy encompasses “an adjudication of guilt or admission to a criminal violation; a plea to a lesser included offense; a plea of nolo contendere or no contest; or the disposition of the proceeding through a diversionary program, deferred adjudication, disposition of supervision, conditional dismissal or similar arrangements.” (Emphasis added.)
If Lewis wanted to avoid scrutiny under the conduct policy, he should have held out for an unconditional dismissal, or he should have taken the case to trial in the hopes of an acquittal.
Other details emerged on Monday, via the Times-Union. Police subdued Dion and Lamar Lewis with pepper spray, and the positioning of surveillance cameras didn’t show whether the Lewis brothers were banging on the locker door to the lobby at the Hampton Inn in Albany.
Also, they didn’t actually pull a fire alarm. Instead, the plastic case protecting the alarm was “jostled,” triggering a different internal alarm that hotel staff characterized incorrectly as the fire alarm.
None of this changes the fact that Dion Lewis received a conditional dismissal of the charges, which puts him in line for NFL scrutiny. Though he may not receive a significant punishment as a first-time offender, he’ll now be regarded as a repeat offender if he gets in trouble again later in his career.