California Criminal Defense Blog

Hollywood celebrities seem to have a knack for making headlines for all the wrong reasons. The list of celebrities who have been accused or convicted of crimes is seemingly endless. These alleged crimes range from misdemeanors to more serious felony offenses. Let’s take a look at some of the more common celebrity crimes and the penalties that come with them…

1. DUI

crimes among Hollywood celebrities

DUI is one of the most popular crimes among Hollywood celebrities.

Celebrities seem to be routinely arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The list of Hollywood stars who have face DUI charges includes Paris Hilton, Keifer Sutherland, Mickey Rourke, Heather Locklear, Nick Nolte and Mel Gibson.

Hilton reportedly had her license suspended and was sentenced to three years of probation.

Sutherland spent 48 days in county jail. However, you could face more sever punishment if you are convicted of a DUI.

For a first-offense DUI, you could be sentenced to up to six months in county jail and fined up to $1,000.

For a second DUI conviction the punishment could increase to up to one year in county jail and up to 30 months of court-approved DUI education classes. You may also have your license suspended for up to two years.

2. Shoplifting

Under California Penal Code Sections 484 and 488, shoplifting is defined as stealing property that is valued at $950 or less. The penalty for this crime is up to six months in county jail and up to $1,000 in fines.

The last thing you might expect is for any celebrity to be arrested for shoplifting considering their typically large salaries. Surprisingly, several prominent actresses, singers, athletes, and even political figures have been caught shoplifting in recent history.

Lindsay Lohan was recently arrested for allegedly wearing a $2,500 necklace out of a jewelry store without paying for it. As a result of her conviction, she was sentenced to 120 days in jail and 480 days of community service. Other celebrities arrested for this crime include Winona Ryder, who allegedly stole $125,000 in jewels in 2008, and even former President George W. Bush’s advisor Claude Allen, who reportedly stole merchandise from several stores in the same year. Other celebrities who have been accused of shoplifting include:

  • Dean Martin;
  • Shelley Morrison;
  • Farrah Fawcett;
  • Britney Spears; and
  • Megan Fox.

3. Tax Evasion

tax evasion

Wesley Snipes was arrested for tax evasion.

Due to their high incomes, the wealthy are required to pay much more in taxes than the average taxpayer. Thus, tax evasion has become a common occurrence among Hollywood celebrities. Celebrities who have faced tax evasion charges in recent years include Wesley Snipes, Luciano Pavarotti, and Pamela Anderson.

These celebrities underwent some severe punishment following their convictions. Snipes served three years in jail from December 2010 to December 2013 for not paying his taxes. Pamela Anderson allegedly owed over $112,000 in fines for her unpaid taxes to the state of California in 2011.

If you are convicted of tax evasion, the government can:

  • Place a levy on your bank account;
  • Place a lien on your home;
  • Seize your car, boat, or other personal property of value; and
  • Imprison you for up to 5 years.

4. Murder

Everyone is well aware of the infamous O.J. Simpson murder trial. Simpson, who was accused of murdering his ex-wife and her supposed boyfriend, was ultimately found not guilty. A few other Hollywood celebrities have made news headlines for alleged murder accusations in the past, including music producer Phil Spector, who was sentenced to 19 years to life for the murder of a young lady. Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols rock band was arrested for murder after allegedly stabbing his girlfriend. He died of Heroin a overdose soon after.

For first-degree murder, which is considered willful and premeditated, the penalties for a conviction can vary. You could face 25 years to life in prison or even the death penalty, depending on the circumstances of your case. This is why it is extremely important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney help you if you are charged with this crime.

5. Drug Possession

Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber has had some trouble with the law recently.

Drug possession seems to be one of the most common celebrity crimes to make news headlines in recent years. Some celebrities who have been arrested for this crime include Amy Winehouse, who was arrested in 2007 for alleged marijuana possession, and Matthew McConaughey, who reportedly was charged with marijuana possession in 1999. A more recent example is Justin Bieber, who was caught speed racing with Xanax in his possession.

Drug possession is a serious crime in California. Under California Health and Safety Code Section 11350, possessing a controlled substance can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. For a misdemeanor conviction, you may face up to one year in county jail and up to $1,000 in fines. For a felony, you could be sentenced to up to three years in jail.

6. Weapons Possession

In 2008, rapper Lil Wayne was allegedly caught with three firearms in the state of Arizona. Rapper T.I. was reportedly arrested for selling firearms during an undercover sting in 2007. California law distinguishes between several types of gun crimes. The punishments for each vary depending on whether the crime involved:

  • Possessing a concealed firearm without a permit;
  • Felon with a firearm;
  • Carrying a loaded firearm in public;
  • Using a gun in specific places (schools, government buildings, public transit facilities; or
  • Possession of a banned assault weapon or rifle.

An experienced team of attorneys can help you understand the weapons possession charges you may face and the potential criminal penalties.

7. Domestic Violence

Celebrities have been arrested for domestic violence include boxer Mike Tyson, actors Sean Penn, Charlie Sheen and Harry Morgan, and drummer Tommy Lee.

In California, punishment for domestic violence is based on the seriousness of your crime. A misdemeanor conviction is punishable by 30 days in county jail and you will likely be ordered to attend a 52-week domestic batterer’s course.

8. Reckless Driving

beast mode

Marshawn Lynch may have been in “Beast Mode” when he was reckless driving.

With ample amounts of money to spend on some of the fastest cars in the world, celebrities are often arrested for reckless driving. Justin Bieber plead guilty to reckless driving earlier this year.

Seattle Seahawks star running back Marshawn Lynch also recently plead guilty to this charge.

Under California Vehicle Code Section 23103, you could be charged with reckless driving if the prosecution feels that you drove with “willful or wanton disregard for the safety or persons or property.”

A conviction for this crime is punishable by up to 90 days in county jail and up to $1,000 in fines.

Let the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Help You Today

Many of these celebrities were able to get minimal punishment for their crimes because they were fortunate enough to find experienced attorneys to defend them in court. If you have been arrested for any of these crimes, it is essential that you hire an experienced attorney. A knowledgeable attorney will fight for you and help you get the best outcome in your case.

If you have been charged with a crime in California, contact Wallin and Klarich today. Our attorneys have been successfully defending those accused of these crimes for over 30 years.

With offices located in Orange County, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Torrance, Riverside, West Covina, Victorville, Ventura, San Diego and Sherman Oaks, our team of skilled attorneys is available to help you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.


Information for this blog was used from the following sources:
1. [http://popculture.knoji.com/celebrities-and-crime-who-committed-what/]
2. [http://dui.drivinglaws.org/resources/dui-laws-state/penalties-dui-california.htm]
3. [http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=pen&group=00001-01000&file=484-502.9]
4. [http://money.howstuffworks.com/did-not-pay-taxes1.htm]
5. [http://www.crimelibrary.com/photogallery/celebrity-drug-bust.html?curPhoto=2]
6. [http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/29/showbiz/justin-bieber-toronto-arrest/]
7. [http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=hsc&group=11001-12000&file=11350-11356.5]
8. [http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=pen&group=26001-27000&file=26150-26225]
9. [http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/gossip/la-et-celebrity-domestic-abuse-pictures-photogallery.html]
10. [http://www.standard.co.uk/showbiz/celebrity-news/justin-bieber-to-plead-guilty-to-reckless-driving-9535693.html]
11. [http://celebritydui.com/seahawks-marshawn-lynch-pleads-guilty-to-reckless-driving/]
12. [https://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc23103.htm]

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