Kanye's Community Service: Do Celebrities Always Get Off So Easy?

By Brett Snider, Esq. on June 24, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Kanye West is going to be doing community service as part of his probation for attacking a paparazzo, and he'll be serving his time teaching at fashion school.

Confused? You may recall that Kanye cut a plea deal in March, pleading guilty to misdemeanor battery in exchange for two years of probation and 250 hours of community service. And as TMZ reports, those community service hours are going to be spent teaching classes at the L.A. Trade Technical College and other schools, where he'll speak to students about "his personal experiences in the fashion biz."

How do Kanye and other celebrities manage to get off so easy?

Community Service in Lieu of Jail

The difference in legal treatment between celebrities and us average folk is pretty much the founding concern of Celebrity Justice, and Yeesus is a great example of how flexible punishment can be. Kanye first attempted to say that he acted in self-defense when assaulting photog Daniel Ramos, but the best option may have been relying on a plea bargain to get community service.

Although Kanye received community service via a plea bargain, judges can often sentence sympathetic offenders to community service for minor offenses. In some cases, it's up to the offender to decide how to work off his or her community-service hours. But in some cases, a judge may assign an offender a specific task -- like Lindsay Lohan serving time at a morgue.

Kanye appears to be choosing his own locations to work off his 250 hours, and maybe even the fashion curriculum. Who wouldn't want to take a class from Kanye on "How to Dress Kim Kardashian" or "How I Invented Leather Jogging Pants"?

Some Celebs Do Go to Jail

Despite Kanye spending his "punishment" time as the new Tim Gunn, some celebrities do actually spend some time in the slammer for their crimes.

According to The New York Times, Chris Brown spent about three months in jail for violating his probation, and was released in early June with about 800 hours of community service to be completed. Even bad-girl socialite Paris Hilton spent a few days in jail before her legal team could convince a judge to give her house arrest.

If anything, celebrities receive lighter sentences because they have really excellent criminal defense lawyers, who can negotiate alternatives to jail. Yes, good defense attorneys can be pricey, but you can't argue with the results.

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