Mel Gibson Facing Felony Assault Charges?

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on July 12, 2010 7:02 AM

A statement by the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department was released on July 8 announcing they had begun an investigation of the domestic violence charges made by Oksana Grigorieva, ex-girlfriend of actor Mel Gibson. Alleged to have taken place January 6 of this year, Grigorieva has made claims that Gibson punched her in the face "more than once", knocking out a veneer, causing a concussion and a broken tooth.

In reply to the allegations of the attack, Gibson claims he was trying to prevent Grigorieva from shaking their daughter, 8 month-old Lucia, according to FOXNews. A report on the investigation's findings will be turned over to the District Attorney when complete. Authorities think it will take about a month to finish the investigation.

Attorney Mark Geragos, well known for defending convicted murderer Scott Peterson, told FOXNews that the charge of domestic violence and battery could carry jail time, especially if it is proven Gibson severely injured Grigorieva. "... if he hurt her severely, the courts could upgrade the charge to assault with enhancement of great bodily injury," Geragos explained. "The maximum penalty for that is four years behind bars in a state prison, and the DA's office almost always seeks state prison under those charges."

California attorney Stephen Scherzer added that a high profile defendant like Gibson would prove a "great target" for the Los Angeles DA. The experts disagreed as to whether the audio tapes Grigorieva had of an alleged vicious rant by Gibson threatening her and using racist insults would be admissible in court. The physical evidence, if any, may have to suffice. However, it is also pointed out that the alleged assault occurred in January and the charges were not filed until recently, a delay that is never helpful to a victim's case.

The sooner charges are filed after a possible incident of domestic violence the better. Mark Geragos noted, "If Oksana had filed a complaint to police on the day in early January, they would have arrested Gibson straight away. Police have a zero tolerance policy in these circumstances."

A rep for Gibson declined to comment to FOX on the allegations, but said he was hoping to release a statement on his client's behalf this week.

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