Former Nashville star Hayden Panettiere's boyfriend, Brian Hickerson, has been formally charged with felony domestic violence after his arrest earlier this month. Hickerson could face serious jail time if convicted.

According to Page Six, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has charged Hickerson with one count of injuring a girlfriend. He was scheduled for arraignment on Thursday (May 23). Hickerson could face up to four years in prison if convicted of the charges.

The charges follow Hickerson's arrest for domestic violence in early May, when police responded to a call from the couple's residence in Los Angeles.

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According to TMZ, the couple went out drinking in Hollywood on the night of May 1, and when they returned home, they had an argument that escalated into a physical fight. When officers responded around 2AM on May 2, they found redness and marks on Panettiere's body, and after interviewing both parties, they took Hickerson into custody and charged him with domestic violence. He was later released on a $50,000 bond.

E! reports that Hickerson pleaded not guilty to the charge during his arraignment on Thursday, and a judge issued a protective order against him. Hickerson is barred from coming within 100 yards of Panettiere and owning firearms until the situation is resolved. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 26.

Panettiere's wellness has been the source of much tabloid speculation in recent months in regard to both her relationship with Hickerson and her drinking. In October of 2018, police responded after Hickerson got into an altercation with his father to find Panettiere reportedly "intoxicated" and "frantic" when they arrived.

A source told Us Weekly that the actress' relationship with aspiring actor Hickerson "is not a healthy situation" and that family and friends have been worried.  Hickerson denied any problems to Access, saying, “Just to be clear, Hayden’s friends and family are not worried about her at all."

In February of 2019, Us reported Panettiere has not seen much of her daughter, Kaya, since she ended her engagement with the child's father, boxer Wladimir Klitschko, in August of 2018.

“She knows the child being with her is not best for [Kaya right now],” a source told the magazine. “It’s a sad situation."

The 4-year-old is reportedly living with her father in his native Ukraine.

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