UPDATED with more from the hearing: Facing five years behind bars for felony and misdemeanor charges resulting from his violent and drunken January 25 nightclub attack on Paramount Digital VP Daniele Bernfeld, Emile Hirsch began serving 15 days in jail starting today after pleading guilty as part of a deal. With 90 days probation, the actor also must pay $4,750 and perform 50 hours of community service. He also is required to participate in an aftercare treatment program. Additionally, a payment of restitution will be going to Bernfeld, with the matter and amount to be determined in civil court.
If Hirsch fails to meet these requirements, he will go to jail for a year. If he meets the criteria, the charge will be dismissed.
Six days after attending the premiere of Ten Thousand Saints in L.A., Hirsch was back in Park City today again to face justice. Unlike the tense and fully suited-up man who appeared in Utah court on two previous occasions, the actor looked almost relaxed and semi-casual Monday in a black blazer, tie and jeans — a clear indication he knew he’d dodged a long jail term.
As first reported by Deadline at the time of the last Hirsch-attended hearing on June 8, the actor and his lawyers were trying to make a plea deal. As Judge Kara Pettit said today, Hirsch’s lawyers agreed on a “resolution” with the Summit County Attorney’s Office over the aggravated assault and intoxication charges he incurred at a Sundance Film Festival party earlier this year. With the guilty plea in advance admitting to the assault, the deal proposed in the semi-packed courtroom sees the Ten Thousand Saints star avoid the maximum five-year stint designated under the Beehive State’s laws.
“Mr. Hirsch did something inexcusable,” Summit County Attorney Robert Hilder said today in court when he deal was announced. In a statement read in the courtroom, Bernfeld said that she thought she “was going to die” when Hirsch was choking her. She also called the deal the “bare minimum” and said she actually wanted him to be punished more.
Claiming he still could not remember what happened that early morning in January, Hirsch today told the court that there is “no excuse” for his behavior at the party and it was “wrong” and “reckless.” He also offered an apology to Bernfeld. The judge agreed that there was no excuse for what Hirsch did to Bernfeld that night. Ordering Hirsch into custody, Pettit also called the jail time, probation and more “a significant punishment” for someone with no record except minor traffic violations.
Monday’s proposed preliminary hearing, as it is known under Utah law, could have resulted in a mini-trial of sorts. If Hirsch hadn’t waived his rights to the hearing and there had been no plea deal, the state’s evidence would have been presented by Summit County Prosecuting Attorney Ryan Stack; witnesses would have been called and subpoenas issued if the long-negotiated plea deal had fallen apart.
Arrested around 3:15 AM at TAO nightclub following the assault when Bernfeld apparently refused his advances, Hirsch was charged on February 12. In rehab within days of the incident, the actor, who slurringly told police on the scene at TAO that he had no memory of what happened, appeared in court again on March 16. Though other hearings occurred subsequently, UTA-repped Hirsch was excused from them at the request of his attorneys because of his rehab program, until the early June appearance.
The third-degree felony charge not only calls for sentencing of up to 5 years behind bars but a $5,000 fine under Utah law. The intoxication misdemeanor could have gotten Hirsch a $750 fine and 90 days in jail.
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