November 22, 2018 / 12:31 AM / 4 months ago

Los Angeles prosecutors won't charge Avenatti with felony

Michael Avenatti, attorney for adult film actress Stormy Daniels, leaves Los Angeles Police Department Pacific Division after being arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, in Culver City, California, November 14, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Los Angeles prosecutors declined on Wednesday to file felony domestic abuse charges against Michael Avenatti, the lawyer representing adult film star Stormy Daniels, referring the case instead to city attorneys for possible lesser charges.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office did not offer a reason for the decision, which was announced in a brief written statement.

Avenatti, who thrust himself into the public eye as the outspoken attorney for Daniels in her legal battles against U.S. President Donald Trump, was arrested in Los Angeles last week on suspicion of domestic violence.

Avenatti, who has hinted that he might run for president in 2020 as a Democrat, denied wrongdoing to reporters waiting for him outside the police station where he was released and in a statement issued through his law firm.

The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office typically handles criminal prosecutions that do not rise to the level of a felony. A spokesman for that office could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Avenatti came to national prominence as the lawyer for Daniels, a porn actress whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, who sued Trump for defamation after he denied her assertion that she had a sexual encounter with him in 2006.

That lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge last month. Daniels has filed a separate lawsuit over a $130,000 hush-money agreement stemming from the alleged encounter.

Avenatti’s clients have also included Julie Swetnick, who accused Brett Kavanaugh of aggressive sexual behavior before his confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Leslie Adler

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