Police and court records show that the Hustle & Flow star, who Rihanna backtracked last week on initially supportive remarks he made about Brown's situation, was arrested in 2001 in Pennsylvania on suspicion of assaulting his wife, Lori McCommas.
The duo had been estranged for more than two years when Howard, fuming after a contentious phone conversation, broke down the front door of McCommas' house, states a Whitemarsh Police Department report dated Sept. 17, 2001.
Per the report, Howard told McCommas at the end of their argument, "Don't disrespect me by hanging up on me or I'll come over and hurt you." She called 911 and, while she was talking to the dispatcher, Howard arrived and tried to get in.
He "broke the front door down and ran through the screen door in the kitchen. Howard then grabbed the victim's left arm and punched her twice with a closed fist in the left side of the face," the report states.
When confronted by police, he confessed to hitting her, according to the report, which was first obtained by The Smoking Gun.
Howard, who, according to police confessed at the scene to breaking the door and hitting his wife, was booked on suspicion of simple assault, making terroristic threats, harassment and stalking, and disorderly conduct.
He was freed from custody after posting $20,000 bail and pleaded guilty in 2002 to disorderly conduct.
The actor and McCommas divorced in 2003 but then remarried in 2005. The duo, who have three children together, are currently separated.
A rep for Howard declined to comment when contacted Tuesday by E! News.
Last week, as all eyes turned to what happened between Brown and his girlfriend Rihanna just hours before the Grammys on Feb. 8, Howard told a pack of paparazzi that Brown is "a great guy."
"He'll be all right," Howard said. "And Rihanna knows he loves her. She'll be all right. Just everybody's got to get out of their way."
The Oscar-nominated thesp followed in a regretful T.I.'s footsteps the following day, however, issuing a statement explaining he didn't know exactly what he was talking about when he spoke to the shutterbugs.
"When they asked me about Chris Brown the other day, I was in no way aware of what he had been accused of," Howard said. "Had I known, I would have never had said something so insensitive."
He neglected to mention that he understood what Brown was going through. The 19-year-old R&B star has been booked on suspicion of making criminal threats.