Sometimes it pays to be a celebrity — particularly if you find yourself in trouble. While most people spend time behind bars for assault, probation violations, and felony charges, celebrities are often able to avoid jail time. Need proof? Here are seven celebrities who relied on their star status to help keep them out of jail.
1. Alec Baldwin
Baldwin is notorious for throwing public tantrums. When he got in trouble in May for riding his bike against Manhattan traffic, witnesses saw Baldwin throwing an epic fit, describing him as both belligerent and foulmouthed. “How old are these officers? They don’t even know who I am,” the Daily News reports Baldwin saying.
But, lucky for Baldwin, his judge knew exactly who he was. In fact, when it came time for sentencing, Baldwin didn’t even receive a fine. Instead, Judge John DeLury asked Baldwin to behave for six months, despite the actor’s refusal to even apologize for his behavior. During sentencing, DeLury commented about Baldwin’s movies, particularly Hunt for Red October, and remained lighthearted even after Baldwin said he wasn’t going to apologize and would just pay the fine instead, the Daily News reports. So Baldwin received a slap on the wrist, with a few parting words from the judge. “Be a good boy from now on. Have a good day.”
2. Chris Brown
In 2013, Brown and his bodyguard spent a cool 36 hours in jail after they were charged with felony assault for beating someone up. However, when they showed up to court after the altercation, their sentence was reduced to a simple assault misdemeanor, and the pair was unshackled and released, per CNN.
Brown was also ordered to return to his California probation officer within 48 hours and to stay at least 100 yards away from the man he was accused of assaulting. Brown should be thanking his star-status — a felony conviction surely would have sent him to jail. This ordeal came while Brown was still on probation for the felony domestic violence conviction relating to his attack on former girlfriend, Rihanna. In addition, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office had filed two probation charges against Brown, resulting in an additional 1,000 hours of community labor being added to his sentence.
3. Paris Hilton
Hilton managed to weasel her way out of serving a 45-day jail sentence. She was on probation for an alcohol-related reckless driving case, when a judge ruled that she was in violation, forcing her to serve 45 days in jail, according to Today. At the time, one of her attorneys, Howard Weitzman said, “I think she’s singled out because of who she is.”
Quite the contrary. Hilton wasn’t even forced to serve her month and a half behind bars. Just days after she was sentenced, Hilton was let out of jail, and was able to instead spend 40 days under house arrest with a monitoring bracelet. Medical considerations supposedly played a part in the decision to offer Hilton home confinement, per CNN. Whatever the reason, she got a pretty sweet deal.
4. Khloé Kardashian
Kardashian was sentenced to a 30-day jail sentence in 2008 for violating probation following a DUI. Somehow, she managed to serve less than a day of that sentence, People reports. In fact, she was in jail for a measly 3 hours. How did she get out so quickly? Apparently, the jail was too overcrowded and didn’t have room for her.
After her quick release, Kardashian said there was a bomb threat in the three hours she was there. “There was a bomb threat,” People reports Kardashian saying. “They put me in solitary confinement and the warden came down to talk to me and said, ‘You’re the one causing all the problems here … There are all these bomb threats, and we think they’re because of you.’”
In 2001, Jay-Z, formally known as Shawn Carter, received an extremely light sentence for stabbing a rival record executive. Jay-Z bumped into Lance Rivera at an album release party, and the two ended up getting into a heated argument in which Jay-Z accused Rivera of bootlegging Vol. 3…Life and Times of S. Carter. He then proceeded to stab Rivera twice with a five-inch knife. So what was Jay-Z’s punishment? Three years probation, according to E.
In fact, Jay-Z allegedly paid Rivera $600,000, who then told prosecutors he “would either disappear at the time of the trial or testify in a way that would help ‘his friend,’” E Reports. If convicted, Jay-Z could have faced up to 15 years in jail.
6. Justin Bieber
Even though Bieber egged his neighbor’s house and caused thousands of dollars’ worth of damage, he was somehow able to avoid jail time. In early July 2014, Bieber accepted a plea deal in which he agreed to undergo anger management classes along with two years of supervised probation after pleading no contest to misdemeanor vandalism, according to Mail Online. In addition, Bieber had to perform five days of community service and pay $80,900 in damages to his former neighbor.
The initial estimated damage to the house was $20,000. A felony charge can be brought up if more than $400 in damage was caused. Bieber also managed to avoid any jail time for participating in an illegal street race in south Florida last year, according to The Guardian. Police found the presence of marijuana and Xanax in his system, and he was also charged with resisting arrest and driving with an expired license. Despite the seriousness of the charges, Bieber struck a deal that only required he take an anger management course and make a $50,000 charitable donation.
7. Sean Combs
Also known as Puff Daddy, Diddy, and Sean Jean (along with several other names), Combs fired a gun while at a nightclub in 1999. It started when Combs bumped into someone, spilling his drink. After a heated exchange, Combs’ friend, Jamal Barrow, took out his semi-automatic handgun and opened fire at the man. The bullets ended up wounding three bystanders, per Mail Online. Meanwhile, Combs had also taken out and fired a gun. As a result, Combs was accused of gun possession and bribery, with the possibility of 15 years in prison if convicted of illegal gun possession.
Did the punishment fit the crime? It certainly did for Barrow. He was sentenced to nine years in jail and deported to Belize for the attack. Combs was cleared of any wrongdoings in the criminal case. There was some justice, though. The three innocent bystanders who were hit that night brought a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Barrow and Combs, and received a substantial amount of money. One of the women who was hit, Natania Reuben, received $1.8 million, per Mail Online.