Soul veteran James Brown has pleaded guilty to a domestic charge and has agreed to pay the fine for the offence, because he didn't want to expose his "family matters" to a jury.

The 71-year-old singer - who was arrested in January (04) by Aiken County, South Carolina, police on suspicion of pushing his wife TOMMIE RAE HYNIE to the ground and threatening to kill her - initially pledged to fight the charges, but has instead forfeited his $1,260 (GBP700) bail, which will cover the financial penalty for the crime.

Although Brown's lawyer, JIM HUFF, confirms the action is the same as being convicted, he insists, "Mr Brown does not admit to being guilty of this crime."

The GET UP (I FEEL LIKE BEING A) SEX MACHINE star also opted to settle the case out of court because he didn't want his wife to have to testify at a trial, in the fear it would damage their marriage.

Huff adds, "A public trial would subject Tommie Rae Hynie to cross examination and challenge her veracity which would have the potential of harming Mr Brown and Ms Hynie's relationship. My client desires to avoid this."

Brown's decision to avoid a trial will not affect a pardon he received from the state of South Carolina in 2003 for seven convictions - mostly relating to offences involving guns or drugs - over a 10-year period.

15/06/2004 21:21