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Charlie Sheen's 1996 domestic violence incident in L.A. could become factor in new case

December 28, 2009 |  5:44 pm

Charlie Sheen’s previous domestic violence case more than a decade ago in Los Angeles could become a factor if Colorado prosecutors file charges against the actor over an alleged assault in Aspen last week.

Katie Buckland, executive director of the Women’s Law Center who has handled domestic violence cases for the L.A. city attorney’s office in the past, said the earlier instance of domestic abuse could be critical during both a trial and a sentencing if Sheen is convicted.

“A second offense is always treated more seriously,” she said.

Buckland said a judge would have to decide whether the previous incident should be introduced as evidence or considered at Sheen’s sentencing. Colorado law provides that “evidence of similar transactions” against the same or a different victim may be introduced in domestic violence cases.

Sheen was arrested Christmas Day on suspicion of second-degree assault, menacing and criminal mischief and released on $8,500 bond, according to Aspen police. In a 911 recording released Monday, a tearful woman who identified herself as Sheen’s wife said her husband had threatened her with a switchblade-type knife.

She feared she was “going to die,” the woman said.

Stan Rosenfield, who represents Sheen, declined to answer any other questions about the actor’s case. Rosenfield issued the following statement after Sheen’s arrest: “Do not be misled by appearance. Appearance and reality can be as different as night and day. It would benefit everyone not to jump to any conclusion.”

Sheen, who stars in the CBS comedy “Two and a Half Men,” pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of battery with serious bodily injury for a 1996 incident involving his then-girlfriend, Brittany Ashland.

He was accused of knocking her to the floor, leaving her bloodied and briefly unconscious. He was sentenced to two years' probation with a suspended one-year jail term and 300 hours of community service. At his sentencing, he told a judge: “I feel this is very fair, and I’m grateful .... You will not see me back in this courtroom.”

--Victoria Kim

Listen to full 911 call here.