Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Criminal Defense: High-Profile Cases, Celebrity Defendants: Lohan, Hilton, and Gibson receive special treatment?

Posted on: July 29, 2007 at 7:12 p.m.

Criminal Lawyers do a disservice to their clients if they seek publicity.

The Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog believes it is better to keep clients out of the news. Criminal Attorneys at Kestenbaum Eisner & Gorin have represented professional athletes, television personalities, and actors. The best defense practice in smaller celebrity cases is to avoid the media, to not do interviews, or speak to the press. Even if there were no celebrities involved, but the crime received local media attention, it is still better to avoid publicity (unless of course the prosecutors or the police have sought unfair pretrial publicity causing strong public sentiment against our client!)

It is foolhardy to think that major international celebrities can be kept out of the news. The media has a field day at the arrests of Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, and Nicole Richie. These cases become fodder for papparazzi, and tabloid media outlets.

How does a L.A. criminal defense lawyer defend major-celebrity cases, beside having a P.R. firm, and publicists to assist with media inquiries. Typically it is better to dispose of these cases through an immediate settlement, known as plea bargaining, with the prosecutor's office. In this way, the client's name disappears from the front page, and any damage to reputation can be limited to a short period of time.

When a celebrity client is charged with very serious crimes that may require substantial jail time, a quick disposition is not possible in the L.A. criminal justice system. Criminal attorneys must aggressively prepare the case for trial, through a thorough defense investigation, to find weaknesses in the case. This defense evidence can be used as leverage in the plea-bargaining process, to preclude jail time, and to substitute in community service work.

Special treatment is usually not received by celebrities (except may be in front of juries in trials). Prosecutors, judges, and court staff do not want to be accused of preferential treatment. If anything, celebrity cases are much more scrutinized, and thus the flexibility that ordinary clients receive in plea-bargaining is typically not available for the celebrity -- as everyone in the criminal justice system knows that his or her decisionmaking will be scrutinized by the entire world.

Tagged as: counterfeit goods pc 350, violent crimes defense


Dinah Bee Menil on May 25, 2010 at 8:43 p.m. wrote:

is this the same that is on this ?

Li-tsung Alyssa Chen on May 17, 2009 at 6:55 p.m. wrote:

I am actually somewhat surprised to hear that a practice would rather have less publicity. I have the preconceived notion from the news and television shows that law firms like the media because it gives them free publicity. I always figured that this is good for the law firm and the lawyer because it helps them get their name out, and draws in more potential clients. Therefore, I was very intrigued to hear that “the best defense practice in smaller celebrity cases is to avoid the media, to not do interviews, or to speak to the press.” However, after reading this blog, I understand why it is more beneficial for the client to not get engaged with the press. Although it should be automatic, I still find it commendable for a lawyer and a law firm to put their client’s interests first. Additionally, I thought it was an interesting point that officials of the court are more afraid to treat their famous litigants preferentially, so they are in fact harsher (in a way) on famous litigants than normal litigants. I never thought that there might be drawbacks to being famous. I always assumed that the more money you have, the more resources you have at your disposal. I found this blog both insightful and intriguing. - L. Alyssa Chen

Kyle Reilly on April 14, 2008 at 9:53 p.m. wrote:

I agree that publicity in court is not good. Celebrities are people too, and they should be treated just as normal citizens like myself. However, by injecting themselves into the spotlight as celebrities, they chose to have their entire life scrutinized. Celebrities should not receive any type of special treatment because we need to show them that they are not above the law. I think the criminal lawyer should at all times try their best to keep the celebrity from having any type of publicity surrounding the hearings. People in 2008 love both gossip and dirt, and unfortunately they get the thrill out of delving into the lives of celebrities. While of course celebrities are seen in positive and negative aspects; however, I do believe that it is in the client's best interest to steer clear away from publicity. -Kyle Reilly

Sandra Doumit on November 30, 2007 at 2:44 p.m. wrote:

It is comforting to hear that courts are very careful of not making it seem they are treating celbrities with any special treatment. If anything the courts seem to be more harsh on celebrities, as in not granting them with the opportunity to offera pea-bargain. As I think it is only just and fair that celebrities are not treated differently than anyone else and let off easy, I also do not think that it is fair that they are treatd worse. It is unfair to offer an everyday person a ple-bargain and not celebrities. If it is to hide the fact that our system has resulted much more to plea-bargaining, then they need to treat everyone in this way.

Kristin Bryan on November 7, 2007 at 4:44 p.m. wrote:

Part of being a celebrity is being in the public eye. As a celebrity one must expect the attention

Kate Monson on October 14, 2007 at 1:16 p.m. wrote:

Is there ever a situation when the strategy of keeping the celebrity client out of the news is not a good idea? For example, if a celebrity was being sued for a large amount of money for something minor or it seemed like they were being taken advantage of because they were a celebrity. I would think public support and media attention might be a good thing in these situations.

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