July 18, 2014

The film “Billy Madison” helped launch the career of one of the biggest movie stars of the last 20 years, Adam Sandler. The film, follows a twenty-something hotel heir named Billy Madison who has to repeat every grade in school to prove himself worthy of the responsibility of running his father’s business.

Madison’s actions are seen as harmless and even endearing. However, some of his actions could lead to criminal charges and bad press for his father’s company.

Let’s take a look at some of the crimes committed in Billy Madison:

Public Intoxication (California Penal Code Section 647(f))

crimes in Billy Madison
The crimes in Billy Madison are no joke.

In the beginning of the film, Billy spends most of his days running amok on his father’s large estate. He also likes to go out drinking and cause trouble with his friends Jack and Frank. Though they are never criminally charged, Billy and his friends could have been charged for public intoxication for their shenanigans after getting drunk.

Under California Penal Code Section 647(f), it is illegal to be so intoxicated by alcohol and/or drugs in a public place that you are a safety risk to yourself and others or you interfere with other people’s right to move freely.

Public intoxication is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in county jail and a $1,000 fine. If you are convicted of this offense three times within one year, you face a minimum of three months in county jail, probation, fines, alcohol education programs and community service.

If you are under 21 years of age, you also face the suspension of your driver’s license for one year under California Penal Code Section 13202.5. If you have yet to obtain a driver’s license, you face a one-year suspension delaying your eligibility to obtain a license.

Arson (California Penal Code Section 451)

Halfway through the film, Billy is sabotaged by his rival Eric, who is trying to take over Madison Hotels himself. Distraught, Billy goes back to his old reckless lifestyle, which includes lighting dog feces on fire in front of his neighbor’s front porch. While this may seem like a simple immature prank to most, starting a fire can lead to an arson charge.

Under California Penal Code Section 451, it is illegal to willfully and deliberately set fire to any building, forest land or property. If Billy’s prank had caused his neighbor’s house to burn down, he could have been charged with arson. In a case in Colorado, a teen was charged with just that. Andrew Charles Donohue was charged with first-degree arson, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief for setting fire to dog feces on his neighbor’s front porch.

The punishment for an arson conviction depends on the circumstances of your case and your past criminal history. However, arson is usually charged as a felony.

Under Penal Code Section 451(a), arson that causes great bodily injury is a felony punishable by five, seven or nine years in state prison. Under Penal Code Section 451(b), arson of an inhabited structure or inhabited property is punishable by three, five or eight years in state prison. Under Penal Code Section 451(c), arson of a structure or forest land is a felony punishable by two, four or six years in state prison. Under Penal Code Section 451(d), arson of property (such as a car or boat) that is not your own is a felony punishable by 16 months, two years or three years in state prison.

Attempted Murder (California Penal Code Section 664)

Billy manages to pass all of his classes but has one final showdown with Eric. Billy defeats Eric in an academic decathlon, but Eric, refusing to admit defeat, brandishes a gun and points it at Billy’s girlfriend Veronica. Fortunately, Eric is subdued before anyone gets hurt. The film ends on a happy note for Billy, but Eric’s troubles are just beginning, starting with an attempted murder charge.

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In the state of California, you can be convicted of attempted murder if the prosecution can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you:

  • Took at least one deliberate step towards killing another person; and
  • Specifically intended to kill that person.

You can be convicted of first-degree attempted murder if it is proven that the attempted murder was willful, deliberate and premeditated. A first-degree attempted murder conviction is punishable by up to life in state prison with the possibility of parole. If the first-degree attempted murder was committed against a peace officer, you face a minimum of 15 years in state prison.

You can be convicted of second-degree attempted murder if the murder attempt was not willful, deliberate and premeditated. A second-degree attempted murder conviction is punishable by five, seven or nine years in state prison, a fine of up to $10,000, restitution for the victim and a “strike” on your criminal record under California’s Three Strikes Law.

Call Wallin & Klarich Today

If you or a loved one has been charged with any of these crimes, it is critical that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 30 years of experience in defending persons charged for crimes in Southern California. Our attorneys will fight to get you the best possible outcome in your case.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich Southern California criminal defense attorney near 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 be there when you call.


Author: Paul Wallin

Paul Wallin is one of the most highly respected attorneys in Southern California. His vast experience, zealous advocacy for his clients and extensive knowledge of many areas of the law make Mr. Wallin a premiere Southern California attorney. Mr. Wallin founded Wallin & Klarich in 1981. As the senior partner of Wallin & Klarich, Mr. Wallin has been successfully representing clients for more than 30 years. Clients come to him for help in matters involving assault and battery, drug crimes, juvenile crimes, theft, manslaughter, sex offenses, murder, violent crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. Mr. Wallin also helps clients with family law matters such as divorce and child custody.

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