Plea Deals – The Easy Way Out?
Jason Beahm recently asks in a blog, “Do Hollywood Stars Get Better Plea Deals Than Regular Folk? (http://blogs.findlaw.com/celebrity_justice/2011/03/do-hollywood-stars-get-better-plea-deals-than-regular-folk-1.html), wondering whether celebrities get better plea deals than the rest of us? He says that the deals Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen, Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan have received are all “excellent deals,” explaining that “all have been arrested and charged with crimes that could result in serious jail time. All wound up with minimal punishment.”
Mr. Beahm comes around later in his blog post that these plea deals might not be so preferential after all. “The thing about a trial,” he writes, “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.”
Regardless of what you think of her as an actress, celebrity or person, kudos to Lindsay Lohan for not accepting a plea deal in her felony grand theft case. Lohan was charged in early February for allegedly taking a $2,500 necklace from a Venice, California jewelry store. After meeting with her lawyer, Shawn Holley, she opted not to take a plea offered by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office. Lohan decided to exercise her consitutional right to a jury trial which will be before Judge Stephanie Sautner; a preliminary hearing in the case is set for April 22. Had she accepted the DA’s plea deal, which was reported to have been six months of jail time, she would have been found in violation of her probation and would have served time. There definitely should be some FIJA activism on jury nullification at the courthouse during this trial!