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Do Hollywood Stars Get Better Plea Deals Than Regular Folk?

By Jason Beahm on March 14, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Celebrity criminal cases seem to be more in the public consciousness than ever. One question that frequently arises in the context of celebrity cases: do celebrities get a better deal that everyone else when they plead guilty? 

Mel Gibson was recently heard on tape threatening to beat up his ex, Oksana Grigorieva, followed by her claiming that she was beat up, along with physical evidence of injuries. But he didn't wind up getting any jail time in the incident. Instead his attorney struck a plea deal where he has to seek counseling.

There are countless other celebrity cases that cause the public to raise their collective eyebrows. Charlie Sheen. Paris Hilton. Lindsay Lohan.

All have been arrested and charged with crimes that could result in serious jail time. All wound up with minimal punishment.

It seems with Lohan that each time she is in court she is told that "this is her last warning before she goes to jail," and each time she winds up back in court again, but not in jail. She recently rejected a plea offer made by the Los Angeles district attorney in her theft case, CNN reports.

So is this evidence of preferential treatment for celebrities? Not necessarily. 

While the deals that celebrities like Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen, Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan have received are all excellent deals, they are not totally uncommon either. Their cases stand out in the memory of the public in large part due to the massive media coverage.

The thing about a trial is that it comes with a lot of uncertainty for all the parties involved. It also takes up a lot of time and resources. That's why district attorneys frequently offer plea deals, and defendants frequently accept them. Rolling the dice and going to trial is exciting on TV, but in the real world, when a good deal is offered, defendants, celebrity or not, tend to take them.

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