Real Housewives Who Have Been Arrested

In the grand pantheon of reality television, Bravo's "Real Housewives" franchise stands alone. There have been many attempts to imitate the well-worn formula honed razor-sharp by mastermind Andy Cohen – a Bravo executive before becoming a talk show-hosting celeb in his own right — but no copycats have ever knocked the shows off their collective perch.

Beginning in 2006 with "The Real Housewives of Orange County" before expanding to Beverly Hills, New York, and more cities throughout the U.S. (and beyond), the "Real Housewives" have introduced an unforgettable array of colorful and flamboyant personalities to TV viewers. Some of these women, in fact, are so colorful that they've also managed to rack up police records. 

As it turns out, the list of "Housewives" stars who've been placed under arrest is not a short one. While the transgressions behind their arrests have run the gamut — everything from tax fraud to domestic violence to a sobering number of DUIs — there's no denying that, statistically speaking, cast members of the various "Housewives" shows tend to experience the long arm of the law far more than what would be seen as typical. 

Jen Shah of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City

In March 2021, "The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City" star Jen Shah was arrested by Homeland Security Investigations special agents, right after she fled from the Utah-based reality show's set, no less. Shah and her assistant, Stuart Smith, were charged with wire fraud over what was described as a telemarketing scam targeting seniors and other vulnerable groups. According to a press release from the New York U.S. Attorney's Office, the scam involved selling what were purported to be business opportunities. "In actual reality and as alleged, the so-called business opportunities pushed on the victims by Shah, Smith, and their co-conspirators were just fraudulent schemes, motivated by greed, to steal victims' money," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss.

Shah pleaded guilty, and in January 2023 was sentenced to six and a half years in federal prison. "Reality TV has nothing to do with reality. I am deeply sorry for what I've done. My actions have hurt innocent people," she said at her sentencing, as reported by KSL News. She also promised to repay $6.5 million to the victims she'd scammed after her release from the joint.

Just before reporting to a Texas prison to begin her sentence (which was reduced by one year), she was interviewed on video by her attorney, explaining she'd been in denial about her guilt. "I was lying to myself," she said, "because I didn't want to accept that I had done these things."

Kim Richards of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

Former child actor and "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Kim Richards is a two-timer when it comes to arrests. Her first came in April 2015, when the heavily inebriated reality star was arrested after a booze-fueled altercation in the Beverly Hills Hotel's Polo Lounge. According to E News, she was charged with three misdemeanors, including public intoxication and battery upon one of the cops who wound up hauling her to jail.

Richards avoided serving any time by cutting a plea deal, per TMZ. She received three years of probation and was ordered to attend 52 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, along with performing 30 days of community service. She was also banned by the hotel. As she explained during an appearance on "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen" (as reported by People), she'd admittedly downed a few drinks before showing up at the Polo Lounge just as it was closing — and then refused to budge. "He said, 'If you don't leave, we're calling the police,' and I really thought he was joking," she recounted. "And he called the police. And one thing led to another."

Later that same year, she was arrested a second time while attempting to exit a Los Angeles Target store with two shopping carts loaded with merchandise — none of which she'd paid for. Once again, she entered a plea deal, receiving the exact same punishment from her last offense: probation, AA, and community service.

Jules Wainstein of The Real Housewives of New York City

Julianne "Jules" Wainstein joined "The Real Housewives of New York City" in 2016, but left the show after just one season, amid her divorce from husband Michael Wainstein. That particular uncoupling was apparently not going well, or at least that's the takeaway from her 2020 arrest in Boca Raton, Florida, after she allegedly got physical with her estranged husband in full view of their two children during a custody exchange. Afterward, Michael was granted a protective order against her. 

Michael's attorney, Morghan Richardson, addressed the arrest in a statement to People. "This is a serious situation reflecting Ms. Wainstein's increasingly reckless behavior that unfortunately took place in front of the kids," Richardson said. "The children were released to Michael's custody yesterday and he is most concerned about protecting them. Michael is exploring all of his legal options at this time." The Sun offered further details, claiming she was brandishing a baseball bat when she scratched and punched his face. 

The restraining order was eventually dropped, and their divorce was settled later that year. This came after Michael asked the judge to order Jules to submit to drug testing, which was a direct response to the alleged attack and ensuing arrest.

Leah McSweeney of RHONY

When "The Real Housewives of New York City" introduced Leah McSweeney when she joined the show in 2020, viewers were immediately shown a photo of her mugshot. The photo was taken shortly after her 2002 arrest, which she said took place after police began beating on her friend as cops dealt with a rowdy crowd outside NYC's Hammerstein Ballroom. She unwisely threw a plastic water bottle at one of the cops, hitting him square in the back. That officer responded by punching her in the face. "I fell onto the sidewalk, and suddenly I had four cops on my back, cuffing me. I just felt so many knees on my back. And one of them slammed my face into the subway grates and knocked my tooth out," she told People.

She sued the NYPD, alleging police brutality, and won. She was awarded $75,000, which she used to launch her fashion line, Married to the Mob. "In hindsight, it was a pivotal moment in my life," McSweeney told the New York Post of her arrest. She posited to People that her clothing line's success was "the silver lining" to the brutal beating.

That mugshot came back to haunt her years later when her daughter Googled her mom as part of a school project and came across that particular photo. "She was basically like, 'Mom, why do you have a mugshot?'" McSweeney recounted to People. "So I had to tell her."

RHONY's Countess Luann de Lesseps

Countess Luann de Lesseps was a fixture on "The Real Housewives of New York City" since the show's debut in 2008. In the midst of divorcing second husband Tom D'Agostino after less than a year of marriage, during the early morning hours of Christmas Eve 2017 — according to a security guard at a Palm Beach, Florida hotel — de Lesseps and a friend were allegedly trespassing in the room of another guest, sneaking in while a maid turned down the bed. 

The police report, obtained by E! News, stated that the women "smelled of an unknown alcoholic beverage, had slurred speech, and appeared to be highly intoxicated." When the guard asked them to exit the room, the friend listened, but de Lesseps didn't. Police were called, and in the ensuing fracas, de Lesseps struck an officer in the face and chest. She was handcuffed but fought back furiously as officers attempted to get her into a police car, kicking the door and drunkenly threatening to kill the officers. She was hit with several charges, including resisting arrest, and disorderly intoxication. After sobering up, she apologized for her behavior.

She got off with probation but was re-arrested in 2019 for violating the terms of that probation by testing positive for alcohol, and the judge added extra conditions to her sentence of attending Alcoholics Anonymous. "I paid very dearly, for the last year, for one very big mistake," de Lesseps admitted during a 2019 appearance on "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen."

NeNe Leakes of The Real Housewives of Atlanta

NeNe Leakes has been a fan-favorite on "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" since the series' first season in 2008, and she's also experienced some brushes with the law. In 2014, Star Magazine reported on some of her prior arrests from back when she was still going by her birth name, Linnethia Johnson. The outlet obtained court documents indicating that Leakes had been charged with three felony counts and one misdemeanor way back in 1992, involving what was described as "theft of services" from a phone company.

Leakes avoided jail time by agreeing to a plea deal, pleading guilty to all four counts. In exchange, she was sentenced to two years of probation and also ordered to repay $2,650, presumably the value of what she had allegedly stolen. However, that wasn't the end of her legal problems. The outlet also reported that she was subsequently arrested three more times for violating the terms of that very parole.

Once her criminal past had been exposed by the tabloid, Leakes responded with a message she posted on Twitter. "22 yrs ago I was lost, scared, trapped & a single mom!" she wrote. "I care enough abt myself 2 change my life & u can 2! Wit God, anything is possible."

Sonja Morgan of RHONY

Sonja Morgan joined "The Real Housewives of New York City" in the franchise's third season in 2010. She remained a stalwart on the show until finding herself ditched after Season 13 in the show's complete cast reboot. She didn't leave the franchise entirely, though, since she and fellow "RHONY" ex-cast member Luann de Lesseps returned to Bravo for the 2023 spinoff "Luann and Sonja: Welcome to Crappie Lake." 

Like her "Crappie Lake" co-star, Morgan has also endured the experience of being placed under arrest. For Morgan, that took place in 2010 when she was arrested in Southampton on suspicion of drunk driving. She entered a guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of driving while intoxicated. She was also charged with various driving offenses, including failing to stop at a stop sign and not wearing a seatbelt. 

Following her arrest, Morgan didn't exactly retreat in shame. According to Page Six, the night after her arrest, Morgan attended a soiree celebrating the launch of a new TV series. She was, reportedly, on her best behavior. "She sipped seltzer and was accompanied by someone who introduced himself as her attorney," a source told the outlet. "Presumably he was there to drive her home."

Porsha Williams of RHOA

Porsha Williams became a member of "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" cast in 2012, joining in the fifth season and quickly becoming one of the franchise's most popular personalities. 

During the summer of 2020, Williams was among the many people to take to the streets on behalf of the Black Lives Matter movement, protesting the high-profile deaths of Black people who lost their lives during altercations with police. In July, Williams was one of more than 80 people who were arrested during a protest over the death of Breonna Taylor, held at the home of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron. The following month, Williams was arrested a second time, at another protest over Taylor's death. She was reportedly charged with disorderly conduct and obstruction of a highway.

For Williams, being arrested was a small price to pay. "I have a platform, and I felt compelled to use it to bring awareness to what is happening to Black folks in America and the need for us to take action in America," she explained in a 2020 interview with Elle.

Marysol Patton of Real Housewives of Miami

"The Real Housewives of Miami" made its debut in 2011, introducing six more women into the Bravo franchise. One of these was Marysol Patton, who is also one of the many Housewives to be placed under arrest.

In Patton's case, her arrest came prior to the launch of the show. Shortly before the "RHOM" premiere, E! News reported that both she and her mother had been nabbed in separate DUI busts. The Spokeswoman for the Florida State Attorney's Office, Terry Chavez, explained to the outlet that Patton's arrest occurred about a year earlier in January 2010, after police pulled her over due to suspicions of drunk driving. Patton reportedly pleaded no contest to a less severe charge, reckless driving, which prevented her from serving any time in the slammer. She did not get off completely unscathed, though. In addition to having her mugshot taken, Patton was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, in addition to reimbursing court costs of $581.

Meanwhile, her mom, Elsa Patton, had been arrested the previous October. While most details of the case weren't known, E! News reported that her case was dismissed when the arresting officer never appeared in court to testify.

Brandi Glanville of RHOBH

Viewers of any of the shows in the "Real Housewives" universe have likely noticed how much alcohol serves to fuel the assorted shenanigans, and DUI arrests are certainly not uncommon with the women who appear in the franchise. That was the case for Brandi Glanville, who joined "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" in 2011 as a "friend of" in the second season before being promoted to the main cast in Season 3. 

The year before her debut on the show, Glanville was pulled over by cops for a traffic violation while she drove on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, according to TMZ. When the officer spoke with her, they allegedly smelled the distinctive odor of alcohol and gave her a field sobriety test, which she reportedly failed. She was then placed under arrest. 

Glanville was subsequently hit with two misdemeanor charges for driving under the influence and driving with a blood alcohol level exceeding 0.08%. Like so many other "Real Housewives" alums, she chose to accept a plea deal by pleading no contest to the latter charge and avoiding a potential six-month sentence. Instead, she was placed on probation for 36 months, ordered to pay a $390 fine, and had to attend a three-month-long alcohol education program. 

Danielle Staub of The Real Housewives of New Jersey

Danielle Staub was a cast member during Seasons 1 and 2 of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," reappearing in a "friend of" capacity in a few subsequent seasons after her exit from the show. Staub's checkered past came back to haunt her when an obscure book, "Cop Without a Badge," emerged in 2010, telling the story of her ex-husband, a former FBI informant. Among the various sordid allegations in the book was that she was arrested in an FBI bust involving a cocaine-related kidnapping. 

"There were 17 charges brought against me as an accessory," Staub told People of the book's claims, insisting she was simply involved with the wrong people and was a victim of circumstance. However, legal documents surrounding her arrest painted a slightly different story. According to that information, Staub was allegedly employed by an escort service at the time of her arrest and was charged and convicted on a felony count of extortion. She was reportedly sentenced to undergo drug treatment and had to submit to weekly urinalysis drug testing for six months — with that period subsequently extended. 

Addressing her criminal background, Staub was adamant that the past was the past, and she'd long since moved on. "I haven't gotten as much as a traffic ticket in all these years," she told People. "I was arrested — what is the big deal? What I have done since then, isn't that more important? How I've grown from it?"

Kelly Bensimon of RHONY

Kelly Bensimon became a member of the "Real Housewives" extended family with she joined the New York City edition in the series' second season back in 2009. She didn't stick around long since she was one of several women axed from "The Real Housewives of New York City" in 2011 after the fourth season. The same year as her "Housewives" debut, Bensimon found herself in some legal peril when she was nabbed by police after allegedly assaulting her then-fiancé, Nick Stefanov. 

"She was arrested on March 5 at 9:10 a.m. for punching her fiancé in the face, and [she] gave him a laceration under his left eye. She was arrested for assault — it's a misdemeanor," an NYPD spokesperson told People at the time. Meanwhile, Bensimon's lawyer, Stephen Turano, said she'd entered a plea of not guilty. "We are confident that the charges are unfounded and we look forward to a quick resolution," the lawyer told the magazine. 

Her sentence was not harsh: a mere two days of performing community service. While the judge in the case did permit her to see Stefanov, he did specifically prohibit her from "[harming] or [threatening] him." Apparently, the black eye she inflicted on Stefanov didn't permanently ruin their relationship. Still on-and-off a decade later, the pair were spotted in the streets of the Big Apple in 2021, heaping PDA upon each other. The pair seems to have eventually split, as Bensimon got engaged to financier Scott Litner in August 2023.

Tinsley Mortimer of RHONY

Socialite Tinsley Mortimer was a late arrival to the "Real Housewives" universe, added to the "Real Housewives of New York City" cast for its ninth season in 2017. By then, she'd already been arrested.

According to Page Six, police were called to the Palm Springs home of her ex-boyfriend, Nico Fanjul, in April 2016 while she was outside the house. As the police report stated, Mortimer — who had been using her maiden name, Mercer, after her divorce from ex-husband Topper Mortimer — was "crying and screaming irrationally stating that her boyfriend 'Nico' was inside the house with another woman." Meanwhile, the report added, "Fanjul stated that he was inside the house with his new girlfriend while Mercer was outside screaming at him." In fact, police issued multiple warnings asking her to leave. When she continually refused, police were left with no choice but to slap the cuffs on her and haul her down to the station to charge her with trespassing.

That wasn't the only time that police became involved during Mortimer's relationship with Fanjul. In 2013, she was reportedly hospitalized with lacerations to the head after being allegedly battered by Fanjul, while two other 2014 police reports indicated further acts of violence. Ultimately, she credited her arrest as being the final straw that propelled her to leave the toxic relationship for good. "Being arrested was the only thing that broke me out of the cycle of violence," she told People in 2017. "Now I'm done."

Kelly Dodd of The Real Housewives of Orange County

Kelly Dodd came to fame as part of the cast of "The Real Housewives of Orange County," joining the show for its 11th season. Dodd proved to be a volatile addition to the show, sparking conflicts with various co-stars – particularly with the OG of the OC, Vicki Gunvalson.

Another person she reportedly didn't get along with too well was her ex-husband, Michael Dodd, a situation that crested in July 2014 when a marital spat turned into a violent brawl. Not only was Dodd reportedly arrested and charged with domestic violence, she was also hit with a restraining order that forbade her from getting anywhere near her husband, who she ended up divorcing in 2017. The restraining order was lifted a year after it was granted, and the charges were dropped after she attended 10 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and underwent a six-month-long course of therapy. 

While Dodd is clearly no angel, she has complained that her transgressions are relatively less felonious than her fellow Housewives, which is something she pointed out in great detail after her firing from the franchise in 2021. Meanwhile, during an interview with SiriusXM's "Jeff Lewis Live," Dodd also griped that she was taken by surprise when the hammer came down. "I had no idea," she said of her firing. "It was actually, I was blindsided."

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.