Hayden Panettiere's Boyfriend Brian Hickerson Charged with Felony Domestic Violence
Hayden Panettiere has been dating the aspiring actor for almost a year
Hayden Panettiere‘s boyfriend could face jail time following his arrest earlier this month.
The L.A. County District Attorney’s Office has charged Brian Hickerson with one count of felony domestic violence, PEOPLE confirms. His arraignment is scheduled for Thursday.
“Mr. Hickerson has been charged with one felony count of injuring a spouse, cohabitant, girlfriend, etc.,” said a spokesperson for the District Attorney.
TMZ was the first to report the news. If convicted, he faces up to four years in prison. It is unclear whether Hickerson has retained an attorney to comment on his behalf.
Hickerson was arrested on a domestic violence charge on May 2, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department previously confirmed to PEOPLE. TMZ reported at the time that Hickerson got into an alleged physical altercation with Panettiere. He was released later that day after posting a $50,000 bond, according to TMZ. (Neither responded to PEOPLE’s request for comment on the arrest.)
The Nashville star, 29, was first linked to the aspiring actor last August, shortly after reports circulated that she and then-fiancé Wladimir Klitschko (the father of her 4-year-old daughter Kaya) had split.
Last week, insiders told PEOPLE the romance is a source of concern among Panettiere’s friends and family. (It’s not the first time they’ve made headlines: Last November, they were reportedly involved in a drunken altercation with Hickerson’s dad.)
“Hayden knows Brian has a bad temper and can be controlling, but there is an extreme attraction to it,” said one source. “And despite warnings from family and friends, the relationship seems solid.”
“Brian’s reputation as a party boy is no secret in Hollywood,” the source continued. “Those close to Hayden are more worried than ever about this and his temper. But Hayden is taken with him. She thinks he is what she needs in her life now.”
A rep for Panettiere was unable to be reached. Hickerson did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment, but he has defended their romance in the past.
“Just to be clear, Hayden’s friends and family are not worried about her at all,” he told Access last fall. “Hayden is happy and healthy and so is our relationship. That is all I will comment on so please respect my privacy. Have a great day.”
A second source told PEOPLE that Hickerson “has been a bad influence from the beginning.”
“Hayden’s friends and family are not happy with the relationship,” the source said. “She’s been acting more out of control since she’s been with him.”
However, the star had her issues long before Hickerson came into the picture; she struggled with postpartum depression after welcoming Kaya, seeking treatment in rehab in 2015.