The decision on whether to file criminal domestic violence charges against actor Mel Gibson, or extortion charges against his ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva, may be made as early as next week, prosecutors say. While the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department concluded its investigation into the allegations against Gibson months ago, prosecutors waited to make a charging decision pending the outcome of the investigation into Grigorieva’s actions.

During the couple’s very public and acrimonious break-up and child custody dispute, each has accused the other of criminal misdoings. Grigorieva accused Gibson of assaulting her and threatening her with a gun last year during a quarrel at his home in Malibu. Gibson’s lawyers have accused Grigorieva of attempting to extort money from Gibson using now-public recordings of profane and sometimes racist tirades.

After months of investigation, a decision regarding criminal charges may be at hand

Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers, police officers and prosecutors alike know that false accusations of domestic violence and other criminal behavior are sometimes used as weapons in child custody disputes. An in-depth investigation is often required in order to establish the facts in complex, high-stakes cases such as these.

The Sheriff’s Department conducted separate investigations regarding Gibson and Grigorieva. The domestic assault investigation was finished last summer, but officers only completed their six-month extortion inquiry in connection with Grigorieva on February 16.

Officials at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office are scheduled to be briefed next week on the outcome of the Grigorieva probe, which will be the final order of business before deciding whether to file charges against either of the pair.

Sheriff’s investigators made no recommendation on whether to charge Gibson with domestic violence

LA District Attorney’s Office spokesperson Sandi Gibbons says that the Sheriff’s Office made no charging recommendations in either case. They presented their findings to prosecutors but did not offer an opinion on whether the evidence added up to chargeable crimes, as is customary.

“The investigating officer…was asked specifically and he told us they were presenting evidence to us and it would be up to us to decide what to file against whom,” Gibbons told the LA Times.

Even if Gibson is charged, Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys know that in domestic violence cases, the district attorney and the judge are often interested in what the defendant is willing to do to improve relationships, along with the conflict resolution and anger management skills of the accused. Demonstrations of positive changes can be critical to the outcome of domestic violence cases.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Mel Gibson case went to prosecutors with no recommendation on possible charges,” Harriet Ryan, March 3, 2011