Kiefer Sutherland may have mistaken himself for Jack Bauer, but to Los Angeles authorities, he's still Kiefer Sutherland, two-time DUI offender.
If the actor is slapped with an assault charge for allegedly head-butting designer Jack McCollough early Tuesday at a Met Costume Institute Gala afterparty in Manhattan, it could constitute a violation of his probation and possibly lead to more jail time.
After pleading no contest to driving under the influence on Oct. 9, 2007, Sutherland spent 48 days behind bars (he was already on the probationary hook for a previous DUI bust) and was sentenced to another 60 months' probation—which, obviously, is not up yet.
"We would have to decide whether or not file a probation violation and then he could potentially face the remainder of the time left on the count to which he entered his original plea," Los Angeles City Attorney's Office spokesman Frank Mateljan tells E! News.
"He could go back to jail, but that would be the maximum and a lot of it is case-specific."
New York police are investigating reports that Sutherland broke McCollough's nose by smacking the Proenza Schouler visionary with his own noggin. Media reports claim Sutherland lashed out in response to some slight directed at fellow guest Brooke Shields, but the actress' rep has denied that McCollough did anything untoward.
"There is an ongoing investigation into an assault," an NYPD detective confirmed to E! News today. "A white male got into a verbal altercation with another white male, 30, when he head-butted him, causing injury to his nose. The report was filed [Tuesday] evening. The incident happened at 2 a.m. Tuesday morning."
Well, according to the New York Daily News, Sutherland will be charged with third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, and be issued an appearance citation that leaves him free to travel until his arraignment.
"Kiefer is sorry it happened," a friend of the actor told the paper. "Absolutely. It's terribly regrettable."
A rep for Sutherland did not return requests for comment.
Because Sutherland caught a break by serving only 48 days for DUI and probation violation in 2007-08, the Emmy winner could be looking at more time, whether or not he's charged with assault in New York, according to one legal expert.
"[He] has done a 48-day sentence, so that leaves 10 and a half months he could be sentenced to if he violated probation," explains Santa Monica attorney Alec Rose, who is not involved in the Sutherland matter.
"The city attorney only has to prove a probation violation by the preponderance of the evidence—basically they have to prove that it is more likely true than not."
(Originally published May 6, 2009, at 3:39 p.m. PT)