Actor Sean Penn, whose hot temper has repeatedly landed him in trouble off the screen, was sentenced Tuesday to 60 days in County Jail for reckless driving and for punching an extra on the set of his latest movie.
Municipal Court Commissioner Juelann K. Cathey ordered the 26-year-old actor to surrender July 7 “with his toothbrush and overnight case” to begin serving his sentence.
She also ordered him to undergo at least six months of psychotherapy for his violent behavior.
“I think he’s a talented individual, and I don’t see any reason for this kind of conduct,” Cathey said.
Penn’s attorney, Howard L. Weitzman, promised that his client would learn self-control. “He feels this is an unfortunate experience,” Weitzman said. “He has to learn that people are going to attempt to goad him into situations where he may react inappropriately. He needs to and does understand that incidents like this are inescapable and he can control and will control them.”
Weitzman said he will seek alternatives to housing Penn with tough inmates at Men’s Central Jail, such as allowing him to stay at a city jail within the county. Last year, Motley Crue singer Vince Neil served a 30-day sentence in the Gardena City Jail for vehicular manslaughter and drunk driving.
Wearing sunglasses, a conservative gray suit and a green shirt open at the collar, Penn showed up for his hearing more than two hours early. He pleaded no contest to both incidents, which constituted violations of his probation on a previous battery case, and politely told Cathey that he would obey all laws “from now on, your honor.”
Penn, who starred in such movies as “The Falcon and the Snowman” and “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” pleaded no contest in February to punching a songwriter at a Silver Lake nightclub last year because he thought the man had kissed his wife, rock star Madonna. He was given one year’s probation and fined $1,700. On Tuesday, Cathey extended that probation to two years.
In his latest outburst, Penn pummeled movie extra Jeffrey Klein, 32, during a break in the filming of “Colors” at Venice Beach. According to a spokesman for the city attorney’s office, Penn objected to Klein’s photographing him and actor Robert Duvall, and swore and spat at him. When Klein spat back, Penn punched him in the face several times with a closed fist and had to be pulled off him and restrained by members of the crew and cast. Klein was treated for cuts and bruises at an emergency medical care center.
Then, on Memorial Day, Los Angeles police stopped Penn on suspicion of drunk driving after he sped through a red light. The actor failed field sobriety and breath analysis tests but the charge was reduced to reckless driving in a plea bargain with the city attorney’s office.
In 1985, Penn received a suspended sentence after pleading no contest to charges that he had attacked two British journalists who tried to photograph Madonna outside a Nashville, Tenn., hotel.
Prosecutor Alice Hand, a deputy city attorney, said she is pleased with Tuesday’s sentence. “It was intended to serve as a message to him that we won’t condone violence by anyone.”