Mel Gibson has escaped prison. After being officially charged with misdemeanor battery in his domestic violence case against ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva, the "Edge of Darkness" actor has pled no contest when appearing before a judge in a Superior Court of California in Los Angeles County on Friday, March 11.
During the afternoon hearing which was not attended by Oksana, the 55-year-old actor entered what is called a "West Plea". This plea means he is allowed to maintain his innocence. It is not an admission of guilt, but only a consent to be punished as if guilty. His lawyer Blair Berk told told Judge Stephanie Sautner, "He's entering this plea because it was in the best interest of his children."
Accepting Mel's plea, the judge sentenced the "Braveheart" actor to 36 months of informal probation, 52 weeks of counseling in a domestic violence program, 16 hours of community service. He was also told to pay about $600 in fines and costs in addition to being hit with a protective order to stay away from Oksana.
One of Mel's probation's terms forbids him from annoying, harassing or threatening anyone involved in the battery case. The "Signs" star, who wore a black suit and blue shirt with white stripes to the hearing, will perform his community service at Mending Kids International, whose board of directors includes his ex-wife Robyn Gibson.
While Oksana was not present at the hearing, her attorneys Daniel Horowitz, Ronald Litz and Martin Garbus released a statement on her behalf, "The decision of the District Attorney was made after very careful consideration of all the facts and with complete fairness to all involved. During the investigation we cooperated fully."
"Ms. Grigorieva spoke numerous times with law enforcement. During those interviews she answered every question that she was asked. Ms. Grigorieva submitted releases for confidential information, waived attorney-client privilege and never invoked her Fifth Amendment rights. Ms. Grigorieva will now concentrate on co-parenting Lucia, resuming her charitable work for the children of Chernobyl and moving forward with her life."