Legal experts agree that Will Smith’s Oscars slip was clearly a crime. However, the chances of him being prosecuted are slim. Even if convicted, he would likely only receive a slap on the wrist.
Smith stunned millions when he marched onto Dolby Theatre’s stage and punched Chris Rock in his face. He was making fun of Jada Pinkett Smith’s joke about Smith’s wife.
Los Angeles Police Department said that it was aware of the incident, but wasn’t investigating Rock’s refusal to file a report.
Although police can technically open an investigation based upon the Academy Awards broadcast, they would not do so without Rock’s participation. Defense lawyer Alan Jackson said that Rock was a former Los Angeles County prosecutor who managed high-profile cases.
Jackson stated, “Would they ever do that in a practical universe when Chris Rock is saying, ‘I won’t cooperate with criminal investigations?’” “LAPD probably sighs of relief that they don’t have to be involved with two well-known actors battling it out on a global stage.
Los Angeles’ city attorney’s office prosecutes misdemeanor crime but declined to comment. However, it said that it could not bring charges against the victim without a referral from police.
Rob Wilcox, a spokesperson for the company, stated that he could not speak to what charges would be against him if he was to be charged.
Since Hollywood’s infancy, celebrities in trouble have been a constant in Los Angeles. Questions often arise about the justice given to the wealthy and powerful.
Steve Cooley, former LA District Attorney, said that “the celebrity thing is starting to come into play unfortunately.” “Would Joe Blow be able to walk off if he did this in front of a police officer?” It is unlikely.
Jody Armour, a University of Southern California law professor, stated that Smith’s inacuity could undermine the credibility of the justice system.
Armour asked, “How can an apparent criminal act committed openly in public not result in any criminal penalties?” Armour asked, “Do celebrities and non-celebrities have different standards?” It seems that we all seem to recognize this. What does this recognition tell us about the legitimacy of our criminal justice system?
Although the well-known can influence decision-makers through their celebrity, it is possible for them to be discredited if they are accused of a crime committed by someone else.
Alison Triessl, who is a criminal defense attorney and has dealt with many cases involving misdemeanor batteries, stated that it would be surprising if the city attorney didn’t seriously consider it. Are they sending the wrong message by not prosecuting him?
Triessl stated that there is no doubt that a crime was committed and that the victim does not need to file a report. Domestic violence cases are often brought to court without the cooperation of the victim, as the crime is against the law.
She stated that it sent a message to the public that anyone can commit a crime, and they won’t be punished. This was a terrible message.
Adam Braun, defense attorney, stated that Smith wouldn’t face charges if there were no serious injuries or support from Rock.
Braun stated, “Although a prosecution seems unlikely, the wildcard here is that there is overwhelming evidence and the incident was witnessed by millions.” “Prosecutors may feel obliged to prosecute Will Smith regardless of Chris Rock’s preference to do so to avoid giving the impression that Will Smith is a wealthy actor who is above the law.”
Smith would be charged with misdemeanor battery, which can lead to a six-month sentence in jail. It is unlikely that Smith would be sentenced. There are other options than going to court, which could result in a lighter penalty such as anger management classes.
Cooley stated that he would advise Smith to enroll in anger classes voluntarily, and then to try to persuade prosecutors to drop the charges.
Cooley stated that he would like more information from a prosecutor about the case before making any decision. He stated that the LAPD’s announcement that they were not getting involved was premature.
Stephen Downing, a former deputy chief of the LAPD, stated that a case could possibly be filed. He said that it was sensible not to waste resources, as Rock wasn’t hurt or sufficiently ruffled to file a complaint.
Downing stated that Rock carried on as though nothing had happened. “He didn’t even put his hand to his cheek. It didn’t seem like there was an injury. He could have knocked him to his knees and made him unconscious. I believe that would have been a case of emergency.