While it's become an undeniable fact that our justice system isn't the perfectly impartial system it should be, and factors of ethnicity and race are historically and currently entangled in the process, another huge obstacle to justice is money. As a book title states, The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison.
Those without big dough to shell out for lawyers must rely on public defenders who may spend a grand total of 15 minutes on a case before going before a judge. People without real lawyers can spend months, sometimes years, in jail because no one got their bail reduced and they waste away in jail awaiting a hearing.
Keep in mind thousands upon thousands of Americans spend months in jail, and haven't been found guilty of anything and many are declared not guilty in the end. But if you want to see some galling examples of our definitely not blind Justice in America you need not look further than the tabloids.
Children of the rich and famous, or young and famous celebs, routinely get slaps on the wrist, if that, for things that you or I would do real time for. It's a kick in the groin to regular folks who expect that the Constitution actually means something for us all.
14 Affluenza Kid
Ethan Couch is an outrageous example of non-justice for the wealthy. While age 16, Couch made the decision to steal booze from Walmart with buddies, and when it ran out, made another alcohol run and this time crashed into a vehicle killing 4, and injuring 11. One of the victims is seriously brain damaged and is only able to communicate by blinking. Couch was well beyond the legal limit for DUI, and his sentence was merely probation which he promptly violated.
Then he was given a 2-year sentence and with his mother, fled to Mexico to avoid his sentence. For that his mother has been put on ankle monitoring and complains about this, and faces up to 10 years in prison, but I'm betting she gets the minimum of 2. Ethan was said not to understand consequences because his parents coddled him. In an earlier similar teen-impaired driving accident, a poor immigrant was sentenced to 20 years by the very same judge. Justice served?
13 Low Times For Lohan
It appears Lohan was trying to fill a photo album with mugshots. Lohan was a widely praised child star who seemed poised for much bigger, and better things. She starred in family fare such as The Parent Trap, Freaky Friday and Mean Girls. Then she checked herself into rehab in January 2007 for a month or so. In May, the 20-year-old was arrested for suspected DUI and cocaine was found at the scene. She was also charged with hit and run.
She enters rehab once more.
She is arrested again just 2 months later for DUI, cocaine possession, bringing controlled substances into a custody facility and driving on a suspended license. For this, she pays a $25,000 bail and is free. Sort of. She heads back to rehab. Third time a charm? Nope, it just gets crazier and crazier. She steals an expensive necklace, and gets a slap on the wrist. Of her 480 hours of community service, she ultimately does 67 days. She did spend 250 days in wildly expensive rehab as of 2012. She did 14 days of 90 days jail time. Must be nice!
12 Father's Footsteps?
Robert Downey, Jr. certainly had his share of scrapes with the law and struggled to overcome addiction. Unfortunately for his son, Indio, the apple didn't fall far at all from the tree. Back in 2014, a 20-year-old Indio was arrested for possessing cocaine and a pipe. Why news accounts don't refer to it as a crack pipe, I don't know. He's not snorting powder through the thing! He was given a suspended sentence in exchange for going to rehab.
Boom! No record. No time.
The judge said he wasn't giving the young man preferential treatment. That's amazing because I know of countless young men of similar age, minus money and wealth, who are actually serving life terms for the same crime. And yes, first time offenders, too. A famous name, or a famous father's name and a checkbook will buy you freedom in the US! I agree that drug laws were counterproductive and I agree with treatment over punishment models. However, that's only if the sentences are fairly doled out to poor and unknown folks alike.
11 Playboys Being Playboys
Playboy founder Hugh Heffner's son, Marston, in March of 2012 was arrested for domestic violence. Marston was 21 at the time and living with his girlfriend, Clair Sinclair, the 2011 Playmate of the Year. He reportedly had punched and kicked the Betty-Page lookalike in the stomach, and vandalized her laptop.
She was left with large visible bruises. Marston got sentenced to a year-long domestic violence class, and the laptop damage charge was thrown out. No restitution. No fine. No jail time. When he was 18, the "charming" heir to the Playboy throne remarked in a GQ interview, "My, like, expectancy for what girl I'm going to get is, like, so f*****-up. I've just been around really hot women my entire life, so the average high school girl won't do it for me." What a catch!
10 Shia's Trouble With The Law
Shia LeBeouf didn't grow up privileged or rich. Actually, he got arrested twice as a youngster for stealing, at ages 9 and 11. Soon after those unfortunate incidents where he swiped a pair of tennis shoes and a video game, he shot to fame in the hit Disney series, Even Stevens. But fame and fortune didn't keep him on the straight and narrow. In 2007 he was arrested twice; once for an altercation with a neighbor, and the other one a bit more high profile.
In the latter case, Shia explained he was more than a little tipsy and in Walgreen's during his 21st birthday celebration. He exchanged words over the course of 3 visits in quick succession to the store and ended up in jail. Just 22 the next year, he got a DUI. In 2011, it was a bar fight. In 2014, he had a complete melt down in public, in of all places, a live theater production while in the audience. Public intoxication had him back on the wrong side of the law in 2015, and in 2017 it was misdemeanor assault which was dropped. He has claimed to make changes along the way, but clearly what he's been trying has not worked to date!
9 Mark Wahlberg Not So Funky As Messed Up
Mark Wahlberg grew up in a rough and tumble neighborhood and was a product of a broken home, dropping out of high school and selling/using drugs. He briefly was a member of his brother's New Kids on the Block, but later broke out in his own group, Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. He became famous for wearing boxers in Calvin Klein ads and for generally causing a ruckus wherever he went.
Eventually, maturity and a film career won out and people forgot his bad boy days. Except they weren't just bad boy acts. His behavior was worse than that; he committed hate crimes against Asians, including an older war vet, and against black schoolchildren. He petitioned to have those crimes expunged or wiped away, but at least one victim stood up to say his crimes should not be simply erased. He was 15 at the time, so many say let bygones be bygones. Is a racist forever a racist? Would it be a possibility for anyone else (without money and fame) to make such criminal acts disappear?
8 Growing Up Just-In Time?
You know someone has a problem when at the tender age of 23 he's had so many brushes with the law, they are arranged online in a timeline! Such is the life of pop sensation, Justin Bieber. From Youtube star, to following in Stevie Wonder's footsteps by hitting #1 on the charts as a 16-year-old, Bieber stormed onto the pop music scene. But by age 19, he made news by getting arrested for his first DUI (alcohol, weed and Xanax) and resisting arrest. Then he got in trouble for vandalizing a neighbor's home shortly after that charge.
The result was to pay for the damage, take anger control classes and 2 years probation. Then he was charged with smacking a limo driver in the back of the head (charges dropped), and in 2014 charges were dropped of attempted robbery (of a fan's cellphone). In June 2015 he was convicted of assault and careless driving. There have been more than a few cases of him spitting on others, and all charges ended up dropped.
In 2013 he vandalized a wall in Brazil, and visited a brothel. He headbutted a man after a Pre-Grammy party, and was accused of punching a fan in the nose in 2016, with a video of the fan's bloodied nose and Justin's bloody hand not helping dispel the story. How much jail time all together for the Biebs? It appears it adds up to 1 day.
7 Ricky Hil A Real Pill For Dad Tommy Hilfiger
Tommy Hilfiger is reportedly worth $400 million dollars. So that makes his son's actions all the more bizarre when in 2010 at the age of 20, he was busted for a felony: marijuana possession with intent to sell. He immediately got bonded out with $20K. His sentence? Apparently nothing more than probation and rehab which obviously wasn't too effective, according to his lyrics in his rap songs alluding to his love of drugs, and um the more recent arrest in 2015 when he was charged with battery, disorderly conduct and possession of marjiuana amounting to less than 20 grams.
His sentence this time? Nearly impossible to say. While his arrest made news, nothing is easily found on any punishment. Hmm. Wonder why? To which all the guys without millionaire dads who are doing real time for the same thing say, "Must be nice!"
6 Conrad Hilton: Just Plane Bad
Poor little rich boy, Conrad Hilton III, brother to Paris, and heir to the Hilton fame and fortune is reportedly worth $300 million. But that seems to have only fueled his penchant for getting into legal problems. One of his biggest headlines occurred during an international flight when 21 years old, he reportedly cursed at and threatened flight members, smoked both a cigarette and marijuana in the bathroom and called everyone "f---ing peasants."
He also explained he'd get everyone fired and his dad would get him out of trouble, stating he had paid $300K last time to do so. The charming socialite was sentenced to 3 years probation, and was promptly arrested again...a week later! This time for violating an order of protection. He got arrested for driving over 100 mph one day, and the next he had a head-on collision and is accused of DUI. He tried to evade the scene but was blocked in by a motorist.
Oh, then he stole a car and rammed it into the ex girlfriend's house, the one with an order of protection. His attorney was seeking psychiatric help for his client, who at that time had served 2 months for violating his probation. I guess we are peasants in comparison! Try to get off that easy in the real world!
5 Rudy Guiliani's Kid Must've Forgot Her Wallet
Rudy Giuliani, former NY mayor and Trump stumper, has always taken the harshest and highest of horses when talking crime and punishment. Must have been a red-faced day when daughter, Caroline, age 21, got busted for shoplifting in 2010. Giuliani, who didn't show up to his daughter's sentencing, has taken a hard nosed approach to crime. Good thing the judge didn't, as his daughter who had pocketed about $100 of make up from a department store in NYC was only forced to a little community service, the same clean up work poor Naomi Campbell was forced to perform. Daughter Caroline has kept her nose clean since and has been an ardent Hillary Clinton supporter to boot! Too bad, Dad!
4 Getting Away With Murder; Not This Time!
Most of us too well remember the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, the 18 year old blonde who disappeared while on a graduation trip to Aruba. We also remember the last person believed to have seen her alive; Joran Van Der Sloot. This rich young man was arrested twice, but never convicted of her killing. He did get in trouble for trying to extort money from her grieving parents in exchange for telling them where he remains were taken.
Unfortunately, a possibly corrupt or incompetent court system in Aruba let him go because exactly 5 years later to the day of Holloway's disappearance, he murdered Stephany Flores Ramírez in Lima, Peru. She was 21 years old. He is currently doing 28 years for that murder. While the rich kid didn't walk this time, had he been caught for what many believe he did in the Holloway case, a second young woman would still be alive. Incidentally, Van Der Sloot survived a stabbing in prison recently.
3 Jean-Claude Van Damme Son Arrested
Jean-Claude Van Damme, actor and movie ass-kicker has a son who didn't just act violent. Nicholas Van Varenberg, Van Damme's 21-year-old son was arrested September 9, 2017, for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, unlawful imprisonment, marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. Whew! That was a bad day! Nicholas, a student at Arizona State University, allegedly answered the door to police officers after calls of concern were made.
Nicholas' dormmate acted as though all was well, although blood was trailing through the hallway. However, 20 minutes later the roommate made a break for it and told officers Nicholas was behind the door. Van Damme's son made his own video debut in police video footage, asking officers if they wanted fame, if that's why they were doing this. He pleaded not guilty and was free on $10K bail. His next court date is in November.
2 When JoJo Met Mary Jane
Son of hip hop legend Rev Run of Run-DMC fame, Joseph "JoJo" Simmons had a little brush with the law back in 2009 when he was just 19 years old. Apparently, the co-star of his dad's reality show, Run's House, was rolling a blunt in his BMW when cops spotted the youth. He was charged with possession and resisting arrest. This could have been a much worse outcome, as it often is for many black young men, but being a famous kiddo had to help.
Young JoJo got a slap on the wrist, in that the drug charge was dropped and he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct. The sentence? A day of community service and an agreement to stay out of trouble for a year. The young Simmons has stayed out of legal trouble since, so Rev must be happy with his son's improved judgement.
1 Texting Teen Takes Nine Lives: Zero Jail Time
In 2010, 16-year-old Orachorn Devahastin Na Ayudhya of Thailand was driving without a license (18 is minimum driving age), texting and crashed into a van of university students and staff. The crash knocked the van off the upper level of the expressway onto the road below, and 8 victims were ejected and died at the scene while another died at the hospital. Five others were badly injured. In the photo above, the driver was seen texting at the scene soon after the accident before help arrived.
The driver also is a wealthy girl, the daughter of a former military officer, and was given a 2 year suspended sentence. She did not serve a single day in jail. She was also given 48 hours of community service to be done each year for 4 years. However, she didn't finish up all the required hours until 6 years later, claiming she didn't understand the requirements of the punishment. She also had to pay the families of the victims a settlement.
Sources: BangkikPost.com, NYPost.com, Coconuts.co, NYDailyNews.com, USAToday.com, AZCentral.com, TMZ.com, FoxNews.com, People.com, NYMag.com, GQ.com, CNN.com, EOnline.com, Observer.com, CelebrityNetworth.com, WashingtonPost.com, ReelRunDown.com, DailyMail.co.uk, ABCNews.com, IMDB.com, PageSix.com