Celebrities and Their Get-Out-of-Jail Free Cards


On Sept. 15, famous rapper and Bronx native Cardi B went on trial. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Eden Cottone, Contributing Writer

Asking “do celebrities receive lighter sentences for the crimes they commit?” is like asking if the sky is blue. Short answer: yes. Time and time again, our justice system has catered to the rich and famous — who else would be able to afford the insanely high bail posted? 

On Sept. 15, rapper and Bronx native Cardi B was on trial for a variety of charges: third-degree assault, second-degree reckless endangerment and 10 other charges that were dismissed. 

The rapper originally faced up to four years in prison for the indictments against her. After taking the plea deal, Cardi B walked out with just 14 days of community service. 14 days of community service is drastically different from four years in prison. 

The cherry on top was Cardi B’s post on Twitter after she received her sentence: this  carousel post includes pictures of Cardi B and her lawyer in court, walking into court and even a selfie, captioned “Puuuurrrrrr.” 

Cardi B is not the only example of a celebrity receiving a noticeably light sentence for a crime committed. How could we forget the infamous college admissions scandal? Felicity Huffman, a famous American actress, was one of the main celebrities involved in this criminal case after she paid $15,000 to have her daughter’s SAT answers corrected. The actress faced up to four months in prison, but after taking the plea deal, Huffman walked out with a significantly lighter sentence: 14 days in prison, a fine of $30,000 and 250 hours of community service. A $30,000 fine would be devastating for many families, but for celebrities like Huffman, it is just a drop in the ocean. In fact, Huffman’s fine is only two times what she willingly paid for fraudulent SAT results.

American actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, were also involved in the college admissions scandal. The couple paid $500,000 in bribes to ensure admission to the University of Southern California for their daughters, Olivia and Isabella. Loughlin’s role in the scandal was probably the most publicized as a result of daughter Olivia Jade’s YouTube channel, where she vlogged her days at the university, complaining about having to attend college

Loughlin ended up with a more intense sentence than Huffman. Loughlin was sentenced to two months in prison, a hefty fine of $150,000 and 100 hours of community service. Giannulli also received a significant sentence. He faced five months in prison, a $250,000 fine and 250 hours of community service. 

Though the sentence was heftier than what other celebrities involved in the same scandal faced, I am still not convinced that it was a just sentence. These couples committed crimes like money laundering and mail fraud, and still, it seems they were able to buy their way out. 

 I would be remiss to mention the infamous scandal of American businesswoman, Martha Stewart. Stewart was charged with conspiracy, obstruction, security fraud (which was eventually dismissed) and two counts of lying to federal investigators in 2004. Stewart walked out with not just the minimal sentence — a $30,000 fine, five months in prison and five months of house arrest — but also a stronger fan base, starting the slogan “Save Martha” and seeing an increase in her company’s stock. Somehow, this trial seemed to result in a positive outcome for Stewart’s million-dollar company. Stewart gained popularity and wealth from her trial. She also seemed to maintain her aura of innocence throughout the entirety of the trial, despite all the evidence against her. 

While reflecting on these celebrity cases, there is one aspect that sticks out to me the most: the money. Each and every one of these criminal celebrities was not only able to pay the expensive fines they faced, but also had the opportunity to get the best lawyers. Cardi B was defended by Drew Findling, who is literally known as the “#BillionDollarLawyer.” There is clearly a trend of celebrities getting off easier, or even benefiting from the trial itself, as in Stewarts’s case. 

Do celebrities think of certain crimes as acceptable to commit because they can buy their way out? The history of celebrity crime seems to point toward “yes.” The crimes committed by celebrities often involve the pursuit of more money and prestige, and yet somehow they can always afford to buy their way out. Ironic. 

Money might not be able to buy happiness, but how much longer are we going to allow celebrities to buy get-out-of-jail-free cards? 

Eden Cottone, FCRH ’26, is a journalism major from Wilmington, Del.