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Winning!!  Charlie Sheen Back in Legal Turmoil, But May Have A Viable Defense

I must be experiencing Déjà Vu.  Charlie Sheen in trouble again, who would have guessed?  This time it seems a dental hygienist, Margarita Palestino, is claiming Charlie punched her in the chest and grabbed her bra during a dental visit on September 25, 2014.  Ms. Palestino filed her suit on October 3, 2014 in the Los Angeles Superior Court, a very quick turnaround from alleged incident to filing of a lawsuit.  Generally, these types of suits take months before they are filed.   Most attorneys would wait to see what the police investigation reveals and whether the District Attorney is going to file charges.  Only after that does a civil attorney draft a complaint.  It seems Ms. Palestino’s attorney is fast-tracking this, possibly because they know it’s going to be hard to prove criminal charges.

An interview with the Associated Press, Sheen’s publicist, Jeffery Ballard, stated “Sheen was taking pain medication for a shoulder injury at the time of the alleged incident.”   Ballard surmises that it was the combination of nitrous oxide given at the dentist’s office and the prescribed medication that caused an adverse reaction.  Ballard stated that the reaction caused Sheen to knock over a tray of dental instruments, but Sheen did not intentionally hit Ms. Palestino.   Ballard isn’t Sheen’s attorney. That distinction goes to famed Entertainment Attorney, Martin Singer of Lavely & Singer. Nevertheless, he set up Sheen’s criminal defense perfectly.

If Los Angeles District Attorney, Jackie Lacey, files charges of assault and battery, she will have to prove that Sheen touched or caused some object to touch Ms. Palestino, that Ms. Palestino did not consent to the touching, that she was harmed by the touching, and that a reasonable person would have been offended by the touching.  Oh, and most important, Ms. Lacey must prove that Sheen had the intent to touch her.  This is where it seems from the available information that Ms. Palestino’s suit may fall apart.  If Sheen was having some type of adverse reaction, he would not have been able to form the intent necessary to commit assault & battery. (An assault is simply an incomplete battery.  Basically, you try to touch, but miss.)  The same goes for Ms. Palestino’s civil suit.  In a civil trial, she will have to prove the same elements, and if she can’t prove Sheen intended to touch her, she loses.  Even if Sheen did punch her in the chest and grab her bra, if he was having an adverse reaction to medications, Ms. Palestino’s civil suit fails.

Of course, the police are still investigating Ms. Palestino’s claims.  If evidence surfaces that Sheen was not just suffering from the effects of medications, this story could have quite a different outcome.  But for now, it seems we may not see Sheen back in a courtroom anytime soon.

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About The Author

Los Angeles-based, celebrity criminal defense attorney, Lonnie McDowell, Esq of McDowell & Associates, Attorneys recognized with the Top 100 Trial Attorneys Award; shares his insight into the legal system in this series of commentaries.

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