ASPEN - Actor Charlie Sheen was charged with felony menacing Monday in Pitkin County District Court in Aspen, where a judge also lifted a portion of a protection order that prohibits him from having contact with his wife.
Sheen and his wife, Brooke Mueller Sheen, shared a hug after the hearing, then left the courthouse.
It was Sheen's first court appearance since he was jailed Christmas Day in Aspen on domestic violence allegations.
Prosecutor Arnold Mordkin also filed two misdemeanor charges, third-degree assault and criminal mischief, against Sheen, 44.
But it's the class-five felony menacing charge that's the most punitive. If convicted of that charge, Sheen faces a state prison sentence of one to three years.
The felony menacing count stems from allegations that Sheen held his wife at knife point at a West End home on Christmas morning and told her, "You better be in fear. If you tell anybody, I'll kill you. Your mother's money means nothing. I have ex-police I can hire who know how to get the job done and they won't leave any trace."
The charging document introduced Monday says Sheen "unlawfully, feloniously and knowingly placed or attempted to place Brooke Mueller in fear of imminent serious bodily injury by use of a deadly weapon ... namely: a knife."
Since the arrest, a mandatory protection order had been filed against Sheen. Attorneys for both Sheen and his wife, however, filed a motion in January to lift the no-contact provision, arguing that the couple, who have twin boys, want to reconcile.
A letter from Aspen-based Response Help For Battered Women, given to Judge Boyd, also details a safety plan for Brooke Sheen, should domestic issues surface between her and her husband, the star of the CBS sitcom "Two and a Half Men."
Judge Boyd reminded Sheen, who is being charged under his birth name - Carlos Irwin Estevez - that other provisions of the mandatory protection order remain intact, including no possession or consumption of alcohol or medications that are not prescribed. The protection order also prohibits Sheen from possessing a firearm or other weapon, and states that Sheen "shall not harass, molest, intimidate, retaliate against, or tamper with any witness to or victim of the acts you are charged with committing."
"It's really important to follow these orders or it could lead to contempt or other charges," Boyd told Sheen.
"Yes, judge," replied Sheen.
The judge also asked Aspen attorney Richie Cummins, Sheen's attorney, whether Sheen has undergone any counseling to address issues stemming from the alleged Dec. 25 incident.
"He has taken a number of steps to do his part to [assure] that no problems arise between Mrs. Mueller and himself," Cummins said.
Also attending the hearing were Sheen's publicist, Stan Rosenfield, his business manager, Mark Burg, and his Los Angeles attorney.
Brooke Sheen, who did not speak at the hearing, was accompanied by her mother and father, friends, and attorney Yale Galanter. The Sheen couple, who left the courthouse in separate limos, caught a flight home on the same airplane to Los Angeles, Galanter said.
The courtroom, which has a seating capacity of 60, was nearly full, mainly with reporters. Some members of the public also attended, including two visitors from Minnesota who decided to kill some time because their scheduled flight home Monday was canceled.
Sheen's next court appearance is set March 15 for further proceedings. His wife will not be required to attend future hearings, unless she is called to testify.
After the hearing, Galanter said the lifting of the no-contact provision is the first step in the couple's attempt to reconcile.
"That was the whole point of doing what we did," Galanter said. "Time will tell."