Celebs Who Avoided Jail Time Because Of Who They Are

This feature contains references to domestic violence, sexual assault, sexual battery, child abuse, drug use, and racism.

Despite how we're often led to think of them, celebrities aren't perfect. Just like the rest of us, they make stupid, ill-advised decisions. And sometimes those decisions result in real, legal trouble. There are a host of celebrities who have been arrested and even jailed for their crimes such as Tim Allen and Mark Wahlberg, but plenty of others get off, if not fully scot-free, then with a much lighter punishment. 

Here, we're focusing on those stars. The ones who have definitely done illegal things, but managed to dodge jail time. Whether that's driving under the influence, committing acts of violence, or evading taxes, in almost every single case, it seems probable that their status as a celebrity may have kept them from being locked up. We can probably all agree by now that it's been proven time and again that the more fame, money, and power you have, the less likely you are to face real justice for your crimes. And all of these celebs who avoided jail time are living proof of that.

Snoop Dogg

In late 2006, Snoop Dogg made headlines when he was arrested at the Bob Hope International Airport. According to the Los Angeles Daily News, he was first pulled over by officers for vehicle code violations. During the course of the stop, it came out that the rapper had both a gun and marijuana in his car. Because of his previous criminal convictions, possession of both items was cause for his arrest. The incident came just weeks after he was stopped at another airport for having a baton in his hand luggage, which he claimed was a prop from a movie he'd been shooting at the time.

Snoop plead no contest in both airport kerfuffles and could have wound up facing jail time in both instances. However, he didn't get more than a slap on the wrist. In the instance of the baton, the "Drop It Like It's Hot" rapper got three years of informal probation and 160 hours of community service. In the gun and marijuana case — which was arguably the more serious as it's illegal for a felon to ever be in possession of a handgun — he dodged several years of jail time for five years of probation, 800 hours of community service, and a handful of other conditions. His attorney at the time told People, "Snoop recognizes he got a great plea deal from prosecutors. He's going to make sure nothing interferes with keeping his part of the bargain. He's relieved and glad this case is behind him."

Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson has a troubled track record with the law. Per CNN, in 2006, he was stopped on the Pacific Coast Highway and charged with both a DUI and with having an open container in the front seat. It was during this arrest that he was first captured making anti-Semitic remarks as well as derogatory remarks aimed at women. Gibson apologized profusely for his outburst, stating, "I am deeply ashamed of everything I said," per The Guardian. However, prior to and since the incident, the actor has been repeatedly accused of anti-semitism — which he's often denied. Regardless, many within Hollywood were unwilling to overlook the misstep, resulting in a loss of the "Mad Max" actor's star power. 

The court, on the other hand, wasn't quite as put off by the incident. Gibson received three years of probation, and several fines, and was ordered to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. In 2009, the Seattle Times reported that having successfully completed the terms of his punishment the conviction was being expunged from his record.

In 2011 he was charged with domestic battery after his then-girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, accused him of hitting her while holding their baby. The actor had seemingly confessed to the crime in leaked phone calls between the two. The "Braveheart" actor pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of battery but wound up dodging jail time once again. This time, according to People, he was given three years probation and community service, was charged several fines, and ordered to attend a year-long domestic violence counseling program.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

If you or a loved one has experienced a hate crime, contact the VictimConnect Hotline by phone at 1-855-4-VICTIM or by chat for more information or assistance in locating services to help. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

Naomi Campbell

Another celeb renowned for their short fuse, Naomi Campbell had two assault incidents that dominated tabloid headlines in the latter half of the 2000s. In late 2006, the model was accused of throwing her phone at a maid's head as she was working in her NYC apartment. It reportedly took four staples to close the wound. The supermodel admitted to throwing the phone but claimed she did so accidentally. In a statement published by The New York Times, Campbell also apologized for the pain her maid experienced. She eventually plead guilty to the charges and was handed a sentence of five days of community service. She also had to take anger management classes and pay her former maid $363.32 to cover her hospital bills. When she was originally charged, the British model was facing a potential seven years in prison as well as deportation, per Reuters.

The anger management classes seemingly didn't take root the first time around, as the British beauty was involved in another incident aboard a British Airways flight just over a year later. Per The Hollywood Reporter, witnesses alleged that Campbell verbally and physically assaulted cabin crew members and the captain of the flight mid-journey after learning that one of her bags had not made it on board. Upon arrival, she was escorted off the aircraft in handcuffs. While she could have faced up to six months in jail for her actions, she wound up with just 200 hours of community service and a $4,500 fine.

Justin Bieber

Like Mel Gibson and Naomi Campbell, Justin Bieber has avoided jail not once, but twice. In July 2014, the then-20-year-old singer was charged with misdemeanor vandalism after he was accused of egging a neighbor's house. Police determined the "prank" had cost about $20,000 in damage, which was well above the California state threshold at which he could have been charged with a felony ($400 in damage). After entering a no-contest plea, TMZ reported that the Canadian pop star was hit with two years of probation, five days of community service, and paying out more than $80,000 to the neighbor for home repairs.

This fiasco came on the heels of a much bigger scandal in which Bieber was arrested for a DUI. In January 2014, he was caught participating in an illegal street race in South Florida. A toxicology report found that he had controlled substances in his system — namely marijuana and Xanax — and he was also discovered to be driving with an expired license. While he easily could have spent some time behind bars, he wound up pleading guilty to the lesser charges of reckless driving and resisting arrest without violence, which meant he only had to pay some fines and agree to participate in an anger management class. 

Speaking to Complex, Bieber denied that he'd been speeding and accused the cop who arrested him of doing so for clout. He added that the day he spent in jail was miserable. "That 24 hours sucked," he said. "It was really cold. That was the worst part about it."

DeShawn Stevenson

In what's perhaps the most shocking incident of a celebrity not facing jail time for their crimes, former NBA player DeShawn Stevenson was never imprisoned following his sexual assault of a minor. In 2001, a 20-year-old Stevenson was arrested for the statutory rape of a 14-year-old girl. The evidence against him, which included a recorded phone call where he admitted to his crimes and witness statements from the victim, was overwhelming, and he even plead no contest to the charges. Regardless, he was still spared time behind bars. 

Instead, the shooting guard was given a $1,100 fine and 100 hours of community service. In a statement following his sentencing, which was published by ESPN, the player said, "Ultimately, I think this situation has made me grow as a person and man. It has given me a new respect and appreciation for the opportunities I have been blessed with in my life and career." His lawyer added that Stevenson had since apologized to the girl and her family.

It wasn't just the legal system that declined to serve any full, anticipated punishment to Stevenson, either. The NBA also failed to hold Stevenson accountable for his crimes, and he continued to play in the league until 2013. As if that wasn't enough, in 2011, following a championship win with the Mavericks, Stevenson found himself in more hot water when he was charged with public intoxication. While he was released from police custody almost immediately, he once again walked away without facing a single professional penalty.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

Chris Brown

Another celebrity with an extensive history of legal trouble, Chris Brown has done very little actual time behind bars. That includes in 2009 when he was charged with two felonies, assault and making criminal threats, after physically attacking his then-girlfriend, Rihanna. The "Love the Way You Lie" singer was hospitalized for her injuries and had to pull out of her performance at the Grammys. In return, Brown was given a reasonably light sentence of five years of probation, 180 days of community service, fines, and a mandatory domestic violence course. According to People, the Judge told the singer, "Mr. Brown, I think it's commendable that you took responsibility for your conduct."

He also managed to avoid serving time when he violated the terms of his probation in 2013. According to CNN, in October of that year, he was arrested outside a Washington D.C. club alongside his bodyguard following a physical altercation with two other men. After a mere 36 hours in jail, both Brown and his bodyguard were released and their charges were demoted to misdemeanors. There were other occurrences of probation violations along the way, but most of them have only resulted in additional community service hours and mandated rehabilitation for anger management. It wasn't until 2014, several strikes later, that he was given time in prison – however, he only served a portion of his 131-day sentence.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Khloe Kardashian

In March 2007, just months before "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" premiered, Khloe Kardashian was arrested and charged with a DUI. The judge in her pre-celebrity case ordered her to attend alcohol education classes, complete several hours of community service, and placed her on probation for three years — a fairly easy sentence all things considered. However, Khloe got busy with life and failed to meet several of these requirements, resulting in a probation violation for which she received her infamous 30-day jail sentence.

Kardashian reported to jail in July 2008, an event that was chronicled on the family's show. Who could forget Kim Kardashian getting in trouble for taking selfies on the way there? But at the end of the day, she was only locked up for about three hours before being released. According to People, the dramatically shortened sentence was due to overcrowding and the facility's policy to let non-violent offenders go early to alleviate some of those space issues. Many have also assumed that she was let go early for the same reasons that Paris Hilton's probation violation jail sentence was also cut short – her presence, and the attention it brought, was more of a nuisance than it was worth.

Regardless of why she was released so early, the reality star seems to have learned her lesson. On a recent episode of "The Kardashians" (via E! News), she summed up her actions by stating, "Not smart," and vowed to never be in a jail-bound position again.

Jay Z

Jay Z lives a fairly quiet life these days, but that hasn't always been the case. While his private life truly is very private now, there was a point in time, back in the very late '90s and early '00s when it was all over the tabloids. In 1999, the "Empire State of Mind" rapper was accused of stabbing a record exec while at a club in Manhattan. The New York Post reported that the victim, his sometimes-friend Lance Rivera, was believed to be distributing bootleg copies of Jay's yet-to-be-released new album. Angry over the slight, The rapper reportedly stabbed him twice, then turned himself in at a nearby precinct. However, his lawyer firmly denied that he had committed the crime.

Many who followed the case as it was unfolding were convinced the rapper would face jail time. After all, the whole thing seemed fairly cut and dry. So they were truly shocked when Jay Z walked away with nothing more than three years of probation. The two Brooklyn natives settled out of court, for a reported $600,000 sum. According to E! News, Rivera had subsequently told prosecutors, "[I] would either disappear at the time of the trial or testify in a way that would help [my] friend." Given that stance, the case against the "99 Problems" artist was quite thin, and probation was the only thing that could reasonably be given. If only we all had enough money to buy our way out of our problems.

Charlie Sheen

Eccentric "Two and a Half Men" actor Charlie Sheen has been in trouble with the law time and time again but has always somehow managed to avoid jail time. In 1997, he plead no contest to battery charges leveled by his former girlfriend Britany Ashland. He was given two years of probation, eight counseling sessions, and less than $3,000 in fines. In 1998, he violated his probation by overdosing on cocaine. The Hollywood Reporter stated that he was actually turned in by his famous father, Martin Sheen. Charlie stayed clear of prison by committing to a rehab stay. But it's the legal dramas of the '00s that have us convinced it's his celebrity status, rather than anything else, that's kept him free of jail all this time. 

For starters, on Christmas Eve 2009, Sheen was arrested in Colorado on domestic violence charges. He wound up being sentenced to court-ordered rehab rather than jail. A year later, he was accused of causing $7,000 worth of damage to a Plaza Hotel room and faced essentially no repercussions — besides some pretty major check-out charges, we're sure. In 2014, he was sued by a dental assistant who accused him of sexual battery during an appointment. But weeks later, she dropped the lawsuit

During his 2011 interview with ABC News, Andrea Canning asked Charlie why so many people still loved him in spite of his endless controversies. "Because I'm honest," he said. "... Part of [my] code is apologizing when you're wrong and just owning it." Seemingly, that code doesn't involve jail time. 

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Hugh Grant

In one of the biggest celebrity scandals of the '90s, actor Hugh Grant was caught mid-dalliance with a sex worker on the Sunset Strip. The British actor had just rocketed to fame with the success of "Four Weddings and a Funeral" and, apparently, needed to blow off some steam. Instead of opting for something like a tropical vacation with his long-time love Liz Hurley, he drove his car down a sketchy part of LA's biggest boulevard and found a woman who was quickly willing to get down to business. The pair were caught by cops and charged with lewd conduct. The misdemeanor could have carried a six-month jail sentence, but Grant only wound up having to pay a $1,180 fine and was ordered to attend an AIDS education course, according to The Guardian. The sentence was apparently expected because it was his first offense. 

However, in the court of public opinion, he fared far worse. Fans were shocked by his behavior, and even after his very public apology tour, in which he claimed the scandal was a moment of insanity on his part, several of them washed their hands of him for good. The incident eventually cost him his relationship with Hurley, as well. Even more notably, Divine Brown, the sex worker with whom Grant was caught, wound up serving 180 days in jail, due to the incident violating her parole. Still, her sentence lent some credence to the idea that the "Love Actually" actor got off easy just because he was a celebrity.

Ty Warner

Ty Warner may not be as much of a household name as many of the other celebrities on our list, but whether you recognize his name or not, you certainly know his product: Beanie Babies. The reclusive creator of the '90s it-toy intentionally stayed out of the spotlight for much of his career. At first, many attributed this decision to his eccentric personality, but as it turns out, he might have had shadier reasons for not wanting to be easily recognizable. Later, it emerged that the billionaire had been committing tax fraud for well over a decade.

In 2014, Warner pled guilty to tax evasion, admitting he'd hidden hundreds of millions of dollars in undeclared off-shore bank accounts (primarily in Switzerland) to avoid paying the government. According to the US Attorney's Office, the maximum penalty for this crime is five years in jail and a $250,000 penalty. For a while, it seemed that Warner may actually have the book thrown at him, as federal prosecutors were urging the judge for a full 46 to 57 months behind bars, according to Forbes. In the end, the business magnate got a much softer sentence of just two years probation, 500 hours of community service, and a $100,000 fine.