When most people think of celebrities, they imagine people living a life of comfort and luxury. But it seems that some celebrities can’t help but let the power go to their heads. There are some shocking examples of stars committing criminal acts and of celebrities seeming to get away with breaking the law.
These cases demonstrate the importance of having a good legal team when facing criminal charges. An experienced criminal defense lawyer is fundamental to ensure the best possible outcomes, even if you are found guilty. Click here for more information on how to protect yourself if you have been accused of a criminal charge.
1. OJ Simpson
The OJ Simpson trial came to be known as ‘the trial of the century.’ When you look at the facts of the trial, you begin to understand this moniker. Netflix immortalized the whole affair in a series starring Cuba Gooding Jr. that introduced a new generation to one of the most-watched trials of all time. As the OJ trial drama was unfolding, millions of Americans remained glued to their TV screens. The fact that this was one of the first trials to be widely televised only exacerbated the effect.
The trial itself was also full of showmanship. Numerous moments from OJ’s trial are immortalized in popular culture. For various reasons, despite overwhelming forensic evidence, OJ was found not guilty at his criminal trial. A subsequent civil trial found him liable for the deaths of his ex-wife and her friend.
2. Michael Jackson
Even before he faced the most severe charges levied against him, Michael Jackson was no stranger to the US legal system. Jackson had previously appeared in court for cases relating to trademark infringement and breaches of contract due to his failure to deliver albums on schedule.
However, it was the case brought by the parents of a 13-year-old boy that captured the attention of the world’s media. The trial rapidly descended into a media circus, and every day began with footage of Michael Jackson’s fans screaming for him as he entered the courthouse.
Ultimately, Michael Jackson was found not guilty in the case of People vs. Michael Jackson. However, more credible allegations have subsequently surfaced. Even after Jackson’s death, his name continued to appear in court documents after his doctor went on trial, charged with his death.
3. Phil Spector
Up until 2003, Phil Spector was best known for his outlandish hairdo and unique production techniques. The Rock n Roll Hall of Fame inducted Phil Spector for his groundbreaking work with The Beatles, the Ramones, and Tina Turner.
Out of the public eye, Spector’s behavior deteriorated over time, thanks to excessive drink and drug use. This deterioration culminated in him murdering the actor Lana Clarkson. Spector had gained a reputation for threatening women with firearms, and he reportedly shot Clarkson after she rejected his advances.
Spector was charged with second-degree murder and is still in prison to this day. He is serving a life sentence and isn’t likely to be released anytime soon.
The following people were not celebrities when they committed their crimes, but they achieved celebrity status as a result of their wrongdoings.
4. Casey Anthony
From the moment Casey Anthony was first arrested for the murder of her two-year-old daughter Caylee in 2008, her case captured the American public’s attention. Casey’s ever-shifting and often bizarre explanations for what happened in the days and hours leading up to her daughter’s death shocked many people. These tall tales included an abducting, vengeful nanny on whom Casey tried to blame her daughter’s disappearance. She also spent more than a month discussing the details of a fictitious job with detectives.
The trial was a complete media circus from start to finish. Major news outlets would give multiple updates each day, and TV news networks broadcast court proceedings nationwide. It wasn’t long before the media had dubbed Anthony “the most hated mom in America.”
Despite an abundance of evidence against her, and her very odd behavior before and after her daughter went missing, the jury ultimately acquitted Casey of murder. They found her guilty of four misdemeanors, two of which were later dropped.
5. Ted Bundy
Ted Bundy’s criminal trial was the first to be broadcast on national television. Bundy was by no means the first serial killer in American history, but he and his case captured the nation’s anxieties at the time in a way no other serial killer had.
Ted Bundy was intelligent and charismatic. People had a hard time reconciling Bundy’s good looks and charming personality with the monstrous crimes he was accused of. Female fans inundated Bundy with fan mail and women were often present in court, desperate just to get a glimpse of him.
Bundy’s decision to represent himself at trial only added to the media circus. He even took the opportunity to ask his girlfriend to marry him while cross-examining her.
Ultimately, Bundy received three murder convictions, each of which carried the death penalty. He was executed by electric chair in 1989.
6. Timothy McVeigh
Until 9/11, the Oklahoma City bombing was the worst terrorist attack to take place on US soil. At the time, the attack stunned the entire nation. On an April morning in 1995, a massive truck bomb detonated outside the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building. Not only was the building full of federal workers, but it also contained a daycare facility.
The bomb killed 168 people, maiming and injuring many more. Of the dead, 19 were children, 99 were federal employees, eight were on-site law enforcement, and three pregnant women died along with their unborn children.
Initially, no one knew who to blame or where to look for answers. However, many had noticed that the attack took place on the anniversary of Waco. Within 90 minutes of the detonation, a state trooper arrested McVeigh for driving without a license plate, subsequently discovering a concealed gun. Separately, investigators were able to trace the VIN of the truck back to the rental business. McVeigh had signed for the truck with his own name.
Criminal cases against celebrities inevitably attract a lot of attention. Most celebrities have the resources to hire top-of-the-line lawyers and secure the very best representation available. As a result, high-profile cases inevitably become media events.