It looks like things are getting worse for Charlie Sheen. It appears that he has a court date coming up in February, but according to reports, Hanes has already dropped him from its advertising. It may be some time before the courts take a serious look at whether there is any truth to the recent allegations about Charlie Sheen.
In the short run, any allegation of abuse will (and should) be taken seriously. When a party to a relationship claims abuse, the courts are quick to grant a Protection From Abuse Act order if only to keep the parties separated. The courts often seem to say: “Hey, who cares who did what? I just don’t want to see any kind of abuse happen in the future on my watch, you hear me? I’m ordering that the alleged aggressor stay away.”
You really can’t blame the court for taking this approach. If you were wearing the judicial robe, you would probably do the same thing. Imagine if you were to deny a Petition for Protection From Abuse (PFA), only to learn that the alleged abuser seriously hurt (or killed) the petitioner only hours after exiting your courtroom. Hence, when in doubt, it often makes the most sence for a judge to err on the side of granting Petitions for Protection From Abuse when the facts are unclear.
But what about cases involving criminal charges above and beyond a PFA? There, it’s a whole different situation. When charged with a crime, as a matter of constitutional right, we are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Here, the courts are not allowed to rush to judgment. The defendant will get the right to a jury trial and he’s entitled to have his day in court. He has a 6th Amendment Right to confront witnesses offered against him. He can challenge whether the allegations of abuse are support by proof of touching (bruises, cut, broken bones), and whether any witness would support the accusers version of the facts.
In the meantime, however, it is generally best for the parties to agree to avoid contact for at least as much time as needed for a cooling or more permanent separation. Charlie Sheen should listen closely to his advice of legal counsel on this, because every case is different. Settlement agreements can come to haunt the parties, so the wording matters. Plus, unfortunately, the system can be abused by those falsely claiming abuse to gain leverage in a divorce, custody, dispute or to evict someone from a shared premises. Every case must be looked at on its facts to ensure that (1) courts are being fair to all parties and (2) right solution is found.
What makes these cases particularly difficult is when the parties are public figures and the allegations of abuse become the subject of headlines. Typically, the final agreement between the parties will often involve a non-disclosure clause and the public may never know the truth. This is also true if the parties reconcile, so the public might only see the allegations, absent any evidence of serious injury.