Do Celebrities Interpret the Law Differently?

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While the common burglary is unlikely to make the news, when a celebrity or famous athlete is involved it is quite a different story. This was the case when two Super Bowl rings (as well as a coin collection and an Xbox) were taken from the home of former San Francisco 49ers kicker Mike Cofer. It seems that whenever a celebrity is in the news even the most basic crimes make headlines. Newsfeeds overflow with news of celebrities being charged with drug possession, DUIs, and tax evasion. Meanwhile, any crime committed against celebrities is just as big of a deal.

A celebrity hacker recently exposed the finances, personal identification information and more about 12 major celebrities and politicians including Beyonce, Ashton Kutcher, and Joe Biden. Had those 12 celebrities been just random individuals, we probably would have never heard of the incident. Likewise, if Super Bowl kicker Mike Cofer had never played in the NFL, the disappearance of a few items of jewelry and a game system would never have been categorized as public interest.

No matter how many times Lindsey Lohan is charged with a DUI, she never seems to do as much time as your average individual. When she does “go away” it’s to some sort of celebrity health spa—not the drug treatment and rehabilitation center one might expect. In sharp contrast, anyone who commits a crime against celebrities is persecuted to the full extent of the law. You can be sure that the celebrity hacker will receive a whole lot more than a slap on the wrist.

Meanwhile, actor Stephen Baldwin was recently found to have evaded over $350k in back taxes and penalties. A typical penalty for such evasion would involve fines, time in prison, and a probation term. But this is a celebrity! In exchange for pleading guilty to the charges, Baldwin will be given five years to pay off the total amount. He is expected to avoid any jail time and probation is out of the question.

Does a person’s status as a celebrity entitle them to a different interpretation of the law than that which ordinary citizens are subject to? Certainly not. Regardless, celebrities are consistently given lesser penalties for offences they commit. When the crime is against a celebrity or other noteworthy figure, the punishment for the offender is much, much harsher.