Chris Brown is not going to jail for beating Rihanna! Do celebrities always get a better deal because they are famous?
According to some criminal defense attorneys, Brown's fame may have worked against him in crafting the plea deal he cut with prosecutors yesterday. Yes, that's despite the fact that he allegedly made anchovy-paste pie out of Rihanna's face and may have used a car dashboard in a serious attempt to flatten her skull.
Furthermore, there is a chance, albeit a small one, that Brown may do jail time after all...
Per yesterday's news, the 20-year-old singer-slash-dirtbag has pleaded guilty to felony assault. He has agreed to five years' probation, 52 weeks in an anti-domestic-violence program and 180 days of labor service. He also must have all his travel vetted by a probation officer.
Typically, Los Angeles attorney Peter Haven tells me, first-time felony assault offenders tend to avoid jail time, just like Brown.
However, he adds, many simply do probation and domestic violence counseling and then move on with their lives without the added headache of donning an orange jumpsuit and picking trash off of the side of the road.
"This sentence was not light," Haven argues. "In fact, I think the opposite. I think he got a tougher deal."
In general, plea deals usually involve a defendant choosing between a mix of labor or community service, probation and jail. If a defendant chooses jail, the sentencing period usually shrinks by a factor of two or three to one, Haven says.
Therefore, between now and when Brown officially reports for sentencing in August, "it wouldn't surprise me" if Brown's penance had been retooled to include some time behind bars, thus truncating his dealings with Johnny Law and freeing him to return to singing, dancing and pummeling women.
All that said, don't feel too sorry for Brown:
Compared with sentencing statistics, his punishment appears a bit harsher than average. But factoring in the worldwide notoriety of the crime and the vulnerability of the victim—this was no bar fight, after all—the singer probably got pretty lucky, lawyers tell me.
And you know where that luck probably came from? Irony of ironies: Rihanna.
Most victims really don't get the chance to dictate the terms of an offenders sentence. But famous victims often do, says attorney and Air America radio host Ron Kuby.
"I am convinced that the deal was presented to her and she OK'd it," he tells me. "When you're with the D.A.'s office, and there are 10 million cameras out there, the last thing you want is your famous victim addressing those cameras and telling the world there's been a miscarriage of justice."
Fine, then I'll say it instead: One of the most famous singers in the country beat up a woman and allegedly threatened to kill her, and he's going to walk around free. That is a miscarriage of justice.
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