Chris Rock Has One Year To Press Charges Against Will Smith For Oscars Slap — Lawyer Explains

Chris Rock could change his mind and have Will Smith arrested for slapping him at the Oscars, a LA-based Criminal Attorney tells HollywoodLife.

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Image Credit:  Scott Kirkland/FX/Picturegroup/Shutterstock

Shortly after Will Smith, 53, walked on stage and slapped comedian Chris Rock, 57, in the head for a joke he made about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith, 50, at this year’s Oscars, LAPD said that Chris would not be pressing charges against Will — a decision that left many stunned. However, just because Chris did not choose to press charges against the fallen Best Actor winner when the incident occurred does NOT mean that he can’t still pursue such action, as Los Angeles-based criminal attorney Lara Yeretsian told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY that Chris has “one year to change his mind!”

“Chris Rock has a year to change his mind, and he’s the only person who can trigger Smith’s arrest,” Attorney Yeretsian, who is not representing anyone involved in the altercation, said. “The statute of limitations for a misdemeanor in California is one year, and only the victim of a misdemeanor crime can make a citizen’s arrest,” she said, adding, “At this point, it’s highly unlikely that Chris will ask for a filling against Smith.”

Shortly after the incident occurred, LAPD released a statement to HollywoodLife that read, “LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program. The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”

Chris Rock
Chris Rock walked the red carpet at FX Networks TCA Winter Press Tour Star Walk in Los Angeles, California, on Jan. 9, 2020.  (Scott Kirkland/FX/Picturegroup/Shutterstock)

Following the release of the statement, many questioned why it would take Chris pressing charges in order for Will to be charged, since the slap played out in front of the world — on televisions and in every other imaginable form of digital video. According to Attorney Yeretsian, “As absurd as it seems, an arrest is not possible in this case despite the fact that the entire world watched the infamous slap. LAPD’s hands are tied. None of their officers personally witnessed Will Smith slap Chris Rock. The video is evidence of the crime but it doesn’t give LAPD authority for an arrest. The only other way to effectuate an arrest for a misdemeanor crime not witnessed by an officer is through a citizen’s arrest, something Chris Rock is not willing to do.”

CHris Rock Will SMith
Chris Rock was slapped by Will Smith during the telecast of the 94th Annual Academy Awards, which was held in Los Angeles, California, on March 27, 2022. (Rob Latour/Shutterstock)

Although Will will likely not be facing charges over the incident, which has come to be known as the “slap heard around the world,” that does not mean that he walked away without any damages. On April 8, The Academy of Motion Arts & Sciences decided that will would be banned from the Academy for 10 years over the incident. In a statement obtained by HollywoodLife, Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson, wrote, “The Board has decided, for a period of 10 years from April 8, 2022, Mr. Smith shall not be permitted to attend any Academy events or programs, in person or virtually, including but not limited to the Academy Awards.”