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Top 10 Celebrities With Criminal Records

by Gwenn Smith
fact checked by Rachel Jones

When we go to theatres or concerts, we are excited to watch our favorite artists entertain us. Most of us love these celebrities so much that we even wear shirts with their faces and follow them on social media.  But, despite being role models for millions, celebrities are still human, and just like us, they make mistakes that might never be forgotten.

These celebrities have been arrested for engaging in altercations, possession, and speeding among other offenses that tell different stories about them. We take a dive into the pasts of the most fascinating celebrities to discover that while they are different now, they all have interesting yesteryears. Is your favorite celebrity on this list? Find out what they did when they were young and wild!

10 Bruno Mars Behind Bars

Bruno Mars ready to leave drugs behind

Bruno Mars is one of the most captivating artists in the world and when he’s not captivating fans with his lyrical tenor voice, he charms with his classic jazzy dance moves. In 2010, the “Locked Out of Heaven” star almost found himself locked up on felony drug possession charges.

All celebrities love to party hard and when in Las Vegas, the famous “Sin City,” rich people are known for partying hard. In 2010, Bruno Mars’ fun had to be cut short when over 2.5 grams of cocaine were found in his bathroom at the Hard Rock Hotel Casino. With the evidence stacked up against him, Bruno Mars went along and pleaded guilty to drug possession charges, leading to an early conviction.

The “Grenade” singer was slapped with a $2000 fine and 200 hours of mandatory community service that he promptly completed. In 2012, the felony charges were dropped by the court, ending Mars’ woes. In later interviews, Bruno Mars remarked that the incident showed him that “fame could be taken away” at any time. In some light, the event taught him a valuable lesson and since then, his career has been going up and up. Perhaps, when bad things happen, it’s the universe telling us to change our ways!

9 Khloe’s Police Station Selfie

Khloé Goes To Jail | Keeping Up With The Kardashians

Khloe Kardashian is popular among her fans and as one of the famed Kardashian sisters, her fame as a reality star is unquestionable. Yet, for the “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” star, being a celebrity also invites its fair share of scrutiny. In 2007, Khloe Kardashian had a run-in with the law that ended in an infamous driving under the influence charge.

Khloe Kardashian, who’s lovingly nicknamed “KoKo” by her family, found herself on the wrong side of the law and after her DUI, she was placed on 3 years’ probation. Probation is tough and after breaking the terms of her probation, Khloe was sentenced to 30 days in prison and enrolled in an alcohol treatment program in 2008.

But since she’s a reality star, Khloe’s family never shies away from poking fun at her little stint in jail. Kim Kardashian and Kris Jenner find her arrest funny and, in their homes, they display a framed copy of her mug shot. At least her family found something to joke about at the Christmas dinner table.

8 Desperate Housewife Desperate for College Acceptance 

College Admissions Scandal: Felicity Huffman Sentenced To 14 Days In Jail | TODAY

Felicity Huffman is no stranger to the spotlight and as an actress, she has been the recipient of dozens of nominations and awards. Huffman’s work on “Desperate Housewives”, “American Crime”, and “Sports Night” made her a notable figure but no role could have prepared her for a criminal record. In 2019, Felicity Huffman was charged with an exam cheating scandal, mail fraud, and conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

Felicity Huffman is a loving mom and in 2019, she got in trouble for paying $15,000 to a proctor so that her daughter’s incorrect SAT questions could get a pass. In the case, now known as America’s largest college admissions cheating case, Huffman was found guilty of paying for her child to go to college.

In the much-publicized case, Huffman ended up spending 14 days in prison, in addition to 250 hours of community service and a $30,000 fine.

7 Stephanie Pratt Has Sticky Fingers

Stephanie Pratt Drinking The Days Before Her DUI Arrest

Stephanie Pratt became a household name with her role in “The Hills,” a reality show that made her a notable television personality. But like most celebrities on this list, Pratt’s past is interesting as she knows what it’s like to be on the wrong side of the law. When she was 20 years old, Pratt got arrested for second-degree theft.

All girls love shopping and when Stephanie Pratt and her friend went into a clothing store, they got a little too cheeky. They were caught red-handed for stealing clothes worth $1,300. A further search revealed that Pratt had drugs in her purse, which was also added to her record.

Over the years, Pratt has avoided controversy but in 2009, she was also arrested on suspicions of driving under the influence after a birthday party. Stephanie Pratt is famous for saying that her arrest was “a blessing” that reminded her that she should not “fall apart.” Way to stay positive in all situations.

6 Stealing in Suspenders

Larry King Dies At 87: Remembering The TV legend’s Life On The Air | TODAY

Larry King was as famous as celebrity journalists come and while he was a respected figure in his prime years, his past was pretty interesting too. In 1971, when he was 38 years old, Larry King was arrested and charged with grand larceny.

In the scandal that unfolded in media circles, King was accused of stealing money from a friend and business partner Louis Wolfson. The case was dropped a year later but the controversy it raised made it impossible for King to secure work in media for some time. King would regain his foothold four years later when he became a host for South Florida radio as the host of the “Sports-a-la-King” talk show.

Larry King, who’s better known for his long-running show on CNN, “Larry King Live,” is proof that bad stories can happen to anyone.

5 Bill Gates: Speed Demon

Bill Gates Breaks Down 6 Moments From His Life | WIRED

As far as rich celebrities go, Bill Gates is described as one of the humblest famous people ever, and even with his enormous wealth, he’s extraordinarily meek. Still, behind the geeky exterior is an ordinary man who was a rebel who loved fast cars in his younger days. In 1975, Gates was arrested for speeding, driving without a license, and ignoring stop signs!

In the arrest, which was the first of three by the Albuquerque Police Department, the ever-jolly Microsoft founder found himself taking a mug shot. True to his brand, Gates is seen smiling in the now famous mugshot. In 1979 and 1989, Gates was again picked up for speeding and drunk driving, charges that were later reduced.

The best news is that in all incidents, Bill Gates was not involved in any accidents and no one, including him, was hurt. Since the 70s and 80s, Gates has dedicated himself to philanthropy and his work with the Melinda Gates Foundation speaks for itself. When you think about it, no hero is really a saint.

4 Put Your Pants on, McConaughey!

Matthew McConaughey Recaps Being Arrested for Playing His Congas Nude (2000)

Matthew McConaughey is a true charmer on-screen and for those that love him, he could play any character and win an award for it. In Guy Ritchie’s 2019 film, “The Gentlemen,” McConaughey plays a rich marijuana kingpin and his stellar performance reminds us of an incident from his real-life many decades ago. In 1999, McConaughey was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

On that fateful night, neighbors launched a noise complaint and after the police arrived, they searched McConaughey’s Texas residence. The routine police call soon turned dramatic after they discovered that McConaughey was not just playing the bongos loudly and dancing. They also found that the actor had drugs on the residence. On top of all that, McConaughey also allegedly ignored requests to put on his pants and even shoved the officer as he resisted arrest.

As expected, McConaughey was booked and after spending 9 hours in jail, he got out on a $1,000 bond. Luckily, the drug charges were later dropped as the “Beach Bum” actor plead guilty to the noise complaint. In the end, McConaughey paid a $50 fine for the noise offense.

3 Wesley Snipes Takes On the IRS

Wesley Snipes Ordered To Prison

Wesley Snipes is one of the toughest screen actors with a 5th-degree blackbelt in Shotokan karate, Hapkido, Capoeira, and Kungfu. In a technical sense, Snipes is a walking lethal weapon who can brag that what he does on screen is not fiction. Sadly, despite his skills as a fighter, Snipes lost in a very publicized battle with the IRS when he was convicted on three counts of misdemeanor.

In the case, Snipes was found guilty of tax evasion for money earned between 1999 and 2004, a period when he earned close to $40 million but paid $0 in taxes. According to the IRS, Snipes had avoided $7 million in back taxes, a monstrously huge sum. As the case unfolded, the actor blamed his woes on his accountant and tax advocate, and on sentencing, they were all convicted together.

After a 2-year stint in jail and a year in home confinement, Snipes returned to court to fight the IRS, a battle he lost once again. Since the debacle, Snipes has featured in notable films like “The Expendables 3” and the star-studded “Coming 2 America” that will hopefully help him settle his debts more amicably.

2 Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed? 

Robert Downey Jr.’s history of bad behavior

Robert Downey Jr. is one of the highest-paid actors of all time and on-screen, his charming personality always keeps film lovers glued to the screen. Yet, in the 90s, the “Iron Man” actor was a different man since he was once arrested on drugs and weapon charges.

In the 1990s, Downey lived a fast life and as a drug addict, he often did some pretty risky things.  In 1996, Downey was flagged down on Sunset Boulevard after speeding and after a search by officers, he couldn’t avoid an arrest. The “Natural Born Killers” actor was found in possession of heroin, cocaine, and an unloaded .357 handgun.

A month after the incident, Downey was arrested again, this time for trespassing into a neighbor’s home while under the influence of a substance. The actor was found sleeping in one of the beds in the home! Following the arrest, Downey was sentenced to a three-year prison term at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility.

Since then, with much hard work, determination, and help, the actor overcame his addiction and got back on the horse as a widely acclaimed actor. In Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” film, Downey saves the entire world by defeating “Thanos.” The iconic scene is as powerful as Downey’s fight against drug and substance abuse.

1 The Prince of Bel-Air Gets Fresh

10 Celebrities Who Committed Terrible Crimes

Will Smith is a jack of all trades and as an actor, rapper, and film producer, he’s easily one of the most beloved people on the planet. But, while he’s charming on TV, Will Smith has a dark past since when he was younger, he was arrested for criminal conspiracy and aggravated assault.

In 1989, the star found himself on the wrong side of the law after he was involved in an assault. That fateful day, the “Men In Black” star had just won a Grammy Award and after getting into an argument with a record promoter, things went south very fast. The victim was injured so much that he almost lost his eyesight.

Smith, who was just 20 years old at the time, was accused of criminal conspiracy since he allegedly asked his bodyguard to beat up the producer. Lucky for Smith, the charges were dropped soon after, saving him from serving a stint in prison.

We all have regrets and the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” can look back at the incident as a skeleton in his closet. Well, with all he has achieved today, he can only blame the record on the innocence of youth.

fact checked by Rachel Jones