Freedom isn’t free. Possessing a combination of exceptional fame and a pronounced naughty streak can quickly make it especially expensive.
Some famous folk run afoul of the law in relatively minor ways but face judges who decide an ordinary penalty won’t teach a celebrity any lessons worth remembering. In other instances, various notorious individuals who believe their renown elevates them above a court of law’s reach eventually require some correction. Both scenarios have been known to set some lofty tabs for springing a VIP from incarceration. Let’s take a look at some of the most cringe-worthy bail amounts household names have paid to walk free.
Incredibly, the former Academy Award-winning actor didn’t have to pay the piper for somehow making a worse version of “Left Behind” than Kirk Cameron. Cage already faced damning charges of public indecency, disturbing the peace, and domestic violence in 2011 when he decided to add a good old-fashioned paparazzi brawl to his plate. In this case, the “National Treasure” and “Face/Off” star couldn’t quite wiggle free with his own resources. He had to call on close friend and reality television personality Duane Chapman (AKA “Dog the Bounty Hunter”) to post his $11,000 bail after disastrously pressing his luck with the law’s patience.
Once upon a time, Odom seemingly held the world in the palms of his massive hands. The now-retired NBA veteran collected two championships with the Los Angeles Lakers and a Sixth Man of the Year Award over the course of a 15-year NBA career with five teams. He even married into one of the world’s most famous and wealthy families when he tied the knot with Khloe Kardashian in 2009, the same year he won the first of his pair of titles in the City of Angels.
An Aug. 30, 2013 encounter with the California Highway Patrol knocked the bottom out from under him. He failed multiple field sobriety tests after being pulled over for driving 50 mph on Freeway 101 through San Fernando Valley, refused a chemical test, and was arrested on the spot for driving under the influence, earning himself a year-long driver’s license suspension in the process.
After being booked and transferred to a Van Nuys jail, Odom called not his wife or another family member to post his $15,000 bail, but his drug dealer.
Celebrated R&B sensation and dancer Chris Brown will likely never lives his horrifying Feb. 8, 2009 assault of then-girlfriend Rihanna down.
In fact, let’s just be honest: after browsing the graphic photos of Rihanna’s face after Brown bashed it repeatedly into the dashboard of their vehicle while parked in the Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, many would call his $50,000 bail “getting off lightly.” The incident hospitalized the pop chanteuse on the eve of the Grammy Awards and Brown was later slapped with five years’ probation, a 50-foot restraining order from Rihanna, and a mandatory residential drug treatment stay.
When he violated his probation with a 2013 misdemeanor arrest in Washington, D.C., he was sentenced to spend at least a month in jail with no set bail amount.
No, these three didn’t collaborate on an all-star caper that blows away every “Ocean’s Eleven” script. Judges set their bail tabs’ decimals seven places deep because all three were guilty of inexcusably heinous offenses. Specifically, each member of this million-dollar trio faced implication in another human being’s death.
Let’s start with Young Jeezy. He and five members his personal entourage pleaded not guilty to gun-related charges stemming from the shooting death of a man attending a Wiz Khalifa concert in August 2014. He was released from jail after being booked for and pleading not guilty to illegal possession of an assault that a search warrant uncovered on his tour bus, but only after posting $1 million in bail. Between his fame and considerable travel resources and a pair of previous arrests following a 2008 DUI incident and a volatile 2012 argument with his son, the court had no illusions about going easy on Jeezy.
Phil Spector’s case played out over the ensuing years into one of the American legal system’s most oddly compelling celebrity trials. Prosecutors charged the legendary record producer with second-degree murder following the 2003 shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson at his Los Angeles mansion. The bizarre, tragic incident in which Clarkson was killed by a pistol shot through her mouth culminated in Spector, then 62 years old, having to be tased after struggling violently when police investigating the scene asked to examine his hands. He walked free for six years thanks to famed defense attorney Robert Shapiro bargaining for $1 million bail, but a jury eventually convicted Spector in 2009 of both the murder charge and illegally discharging a firearm. He is currently serving 19 years to life.
Finally, there’s double-amputee Olympian Oscar Pistorius. The South African track star known as “Blade Runner” for his unique prostheses had to post bail in the amount of $1 million himself after admitting to accidentally killing his 29-year-old girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in February 2013. He claimed he opened fire only because he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder, but Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair set bail as high as South African law would allow and also required Pistorius to forfeit his two South African passports, turn over his guns, and post a $11,300 cash bond on top of proving the availability of the additional $988,700.
Finally, we end on a recent incident in which freedom was not an option at all. Former standout New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was denied bail outright after a grand jury indicted him in the July 2012 murders of Daniel Abreu and Safiro Furtado. At the time, he was already being held by police in connection with the 2013 shooting death of a former friend and semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd. Although defense attorney Michael Fee argued vehemently for his client’s release based on circumstantial evidence, his request was denied.
Hernandez was later convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Lloyd, who was believed to have been able to implicate him in the earlier two shootings and is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
All of these celebrities are people who we tend to idolize for their fame, ability, and fortune. It may take you some stepping back a bit and take a few deep breaths, though, to realize that they are actually normal humans underneath—citizens subject to the laws of the land just like everyone else. If any of them went to jail today, they’d have to answer to both judges and bond agencies like Absolute Bail Bonds in order to stay out of jail.
The thing that might set celebrities aside from the common criminal, though, is money. Perhaps that’s why their bail amounts are typically posted at extremely high amounts.