Politics

What We Know About Michael Avenatti’s Arrest For Domestic Violence

By now, everyone knows that Michael Avenatti, whom Fox News’ Tucker Carlson famously dubbed “creepy porn star lawyer,” was arrested Wednesday on a felony domestic violence charge. At the moment, the details of his arrest and the alleged victim are sparse. There were initial erroneous reports about the alleged victim, but since the news broke, both of his ex-wives (yes, two women have actually married this man) have denied any violence at his hands.

Here’s what we do know. Avenatti was arrested on one felony charge of domestic violence. The official Los Angeles Police Department Twitter account tweeted that he was booked on California Penal Code 273.5. That penal code provision applies to any person who “willfully inflicts corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition upon a victim.”

If convicted, such person shall be punished to state prison for two to four years, or by a fine of up to $6,000, or both. Avenatti was released on $50,000 bail. According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s website, he was in custody for a little over three hours. I’m not sure if things always go that quickly in California, but that is certainly a quick turnaround.

To anyone who has been following Avenatti’s shenanigans this last year, it should come as no surprise that he held a press conference outside a Los Angeles police station upon his release. He forcefully denied the allegations and called the claims against him “bogus.”

One of Avenatti’s notorious clients, Stormy Daniels (the on-screen prostitute who rose to fame after publicly seeking to break her non-disclosure agreement related to her one-night stand with President Trump), issued a statement saying if the “allegations prove true I will be seeking new representation.”

In a twist worthy of an M. Night Shyamalan film, an alleged “intel” agency reportedly connected to right-wing Twitter troll Jacob Wohl appeared to take credit for Avenatti’s arrest on Twitter:

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Surefire Intelligence strikes again. https://t.co/hdbWEjN38h

— Surefire Intelligence (@SurefireIntel) November 14, 2018

Avenatti, not one to shy away from controversy, and intent on making sure the attention remains on him, struck back, promising revenge:

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First Mueller and now me. When we are fully exonerated I am coming for you Jacob Wohl aka Surefire.

— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) November 15, 2018

Of course, since April I’ve been publicly criticizing Avenatti and the utter embarrassment that he is to the legal profession. He is nothing short of an attention-seeking circus clown, and his post-arrest behavior is entirely consistent with his past behavior.

Never ones to back down themselves, Wohl and his father then sent a series of provocative tweets asking if Avenatti will release photos of “his battered victim” and “the victim’s face.” While neither of these two should ever be taken seriously, let’s be clear: if the allegations are true, there is a real-life victim here. She should not be a pawn in anyone’s crusade to bring down Avenatti. As I have been saying for months, he’s doing that all on his own.

To be fair, one must ask if Avenatti could be right and is this all an elaborate set-up. Sure, anything is possible. If Avenatti’s arrest is based on fabricated or false allegations, that should be taken extremely serious by law enforcement, and those responsible should be held accountable for their actions. The disservice fake allegations do to real victims cannot be overstated.

After news of his arrest broke, many on the right were quick to recall the circus surrounding Avenatti’s representation of Julie Swetnick, the woman who alleged that she attended parties with now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, where there were alleged gang rapes of intoxicated young women. Avenatti repeatedly demanded that Swetnick’s allegations be taken seriously, insisted on the opportunity for her to be heard, and even claimed that Republicans were “trying to muzzle women and prevent the truth from being known” in her case.

Ultimately, Swetnick’s claims could not be corroborated and seemed to change over time. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley referred both Avenatti and Swetnick to the U.S. Department of Justice for criminal investigation. (As I stated on Twitter, I don’t think anything will actually come of this.)

It remains to be seen if the Los Angeles district attorney will prosecute Avenatti. While he has been arrested on a felony domestic violence charge, an information or indictment will ultimately have to be filed if the case is to proceed. Avenatti will then have his day in court, and while most criminal defendants don’t enjoy the process, one can’t help but think Aveantti will relish the spotlight. He’ll become a crusader for men falsely accused of crimes and his appearances on CNN and MSNBC will fatigue all of us.

Regardless of whether the domestic violence allegations against Avenatti are true, perhaps it’s time for him to tone down the “fight” rhetoric. As of Thursday, the following quotes could be found on michaelavenatti.com, a website that appears to belong to him: “Don’t tell me what cases you’ve won, tell me who you’ve beaten,” and “If you can’t take a punch, you don’t belong in the ring.”

While he thinks he’s demonstrating that he’s a bona fide tough guy, he is just making a mockery of himself. As I ended my last article: Perhaps it’s better if I speak in your language, Avenatti: basta.

@beyondreasdoubt is a criminal defense attorney in New York City. You can find her musings on Twitter.




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