Knight, 43, is scheduled to appear in Las Vegas Justice Court on Sept. 26 to face the charges. He was booked into the Clark County Detention Center after police found him holding a knife and standing over a woman in the western Las Vegas Valley.
He was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, battery domestic violence, possession of a controlled substance and possession of dangerous drugs without a prescription, police said.
Police said the founder of bankrupt Death Row Records was arrested about 6:40 a.m. after officers arrived at the scene of a minor traffic accident and found Knight hitting a woman in a parking lot off a busy thoroughfare.
"A citizen sees the beating in a parking lot; police get there fast; they see him beating her.
It's a good, solid case," Las Vegas police Lt. Chris Carroll said.
The woman was not stabbed, but she was treated at a hospital for injuries that were not life-threatening.
Police did not release the woman's name or age but said she identified herself as Knight's girlfriend of three years.
"This is a very large man," Carroll said, estimating his weight at more than twice the woman's. "He was on top of her, actually in the act of violently beating her when the officers arrived, with the knife in his hand."
Knight allegedly punched the woman in the head as he was driving. In an effort to escape, the woman grabbed the steering wheel and the vehicle hit the curb, police said.
The woman then fled the vehicle and Knight allegedly started to chase her on foot, catching up with her as officers arrived, police said.
The woman was taken to Spring Valley Hospital.
Knight had the drugs Ecstasy and hydrocodone when he was arrested, Carroll said, but it was not clear whether he or the woman had used drugs or alcohol before the arrest.
Knight is a co-founder of Death Row Records and has had numerous run-ins with law enforcement.
On Sept. 7, 1996, Knight was driving the car and sitting next to rap artist Tupac Shakur, who was murdered in a drive-by shooting eastbound on Flamingo Road near Koval Lane.
Knight won a football scholarship to UNLV, then played professionally for the Los Angeles Rams for a short time before entering the hip-hop scene.
He became a concert promoter and a bodyguard for celebrities.
In 1987 he faced auto theft, concealed weapon and attempted murder charges, but received probation.
He received probation in 1992 for weapons and assault charges. He was found guilty of breaking that probation in 1996 after security cameras caught him at the MGM Grand. He was sentenced to nine years in prison for parole violation.
Released from prison in 2001, Knight was arrested again on Dec. 23, 2002 for a parole violation. Police said he moved to Malibu without informing his parole officer and associated with known gang members. He was released after 61 days.
Then Knight was arrested on June 21, 2003 for assaulting a parking lot attendant outside a Los Angeles nightclub. He was found guilty of assault and for violating his parole and received a 10-month prison sentence.
In Barstow, California, Knight was stopped by police for making an illegal U-turn on Feb. 5, 2005. Police found marijuana in his truck and he was arrested and held for a week in jail, but later cleared of all but the moving violation charge and driving without insurance.
He was fined $691 for the illegal turn.
His nickname "Suge" came from a childhood nickname of "Sugar Bear." He was born April 19, 1965 in Compton, Calif.
His former record company was auctioned in June for $24 million to New York-based Global Music Group Inc.
Daniel McCarthy, a lawyer handling a Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection filing for Knight and the record company, said Wednesday that the sale is pending.
Death Row Records was known for releasing seminal gangster rap albums by Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, and it sold tens of millions of albums in the heyday of early 1990s rap.
In 2006, a federal judge ordered a bankruptcy trustee takeover of Death Row Records, saying the label had undergone gross mismanagement.