Actor Emile Hirsch Appears in Utah Court on Assault Charge
Emile Hirsch is seen during a court appearance at 3rd Judicial District Court March 16, 2015 in Park City, Utah. Hirsch is facing charges of aggravated assault and intoxication after he allegedly choked Paramount Pictures executive Daniele Bernfeld at a nightclub January 25 during the Sundance Film Festival. Pool / Getty Images
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PARK CITY, Utah — Actor Emile Hirsch made his first court appearance Monday on allegations that he put a studio executive in a chokehold and dragged her across a nightclub table while in Utah for the Sundance Film Festival.
The "Into the Wild" star declined to comment Monday outside court in Park City. The actor from Encino, California, is charged with felony assault, which is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. He also faces a misdemeanor count of intoxication.
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Hirsch, who turned 30 on Friday, was clean-shaven and wore a tight-fitting black suit with a white shirt and black tie. He stared straight ahead as he walked through a small gaggle of reporters, photographers and onlookers at the courthouse. After his brief appearance before state Judge Kara Petitt, Hirsch was instructed to walk next door to the sheriff's office to get his mug shot taken.
The woman Hirsch is accused of assaulting on Jan. 25 is Daniele Bernfeld, 31, an executive for the Paramount Pictures. Efforts to reach Bernfeld and her employer were unsuccessful. Court documents say the altercation at Tao Nightclub in Park City occurred when Hirsch, looking drunk, approached Bernfeld and asked why she looked "so tough." Investigators say Hirsch grabbed Bernfeld, and she pushed him away. He left and sat with friends before returning and grabbing the woman from behind, the documents say. Authorities say Hirsch put the woman in a chokehold and pulled her across a table before landing on top of her on the floor.
Hirsch lawyer Robert Offer has said the actor was drinking alcohol and does not remember what happened that night. Offer also said last month that Hirsch checked into rehab within days of the incident.