Was Felicity Huffman's 14-Day Sentence a "Loss" for the Prosecution?

Was Felicity Huffman's 14-Day Sentence a "Loss" for the Prosecution?

Felicity Huffman will turn herself in on October 25 to begin her sentence for her role in the college admissions scandal.

By Marianne Garvey
Felicity Huffman Sentencing

The prosecution originally wanted a minimum of four months' jail time for Felicity Huffman for her role in the college admissions scandal. 

However, on September 13, the judge in the case sentenced Huffman to 14 days behind bars, a $30,000 fine, one year of supervised release, and 250 hours of community service, which she reportedly has already begun

The actress is expected to turn herself in on October 25 to start her prison time.

Huffman was remorseful, and pleaded guilty on May 13 to conspiracy to commit mail and honest service frauds in the scandal, in which she hired a proctor to tweak her daughter's SAT answers.

Now people have opinions, of course. John Legend tweeted, "I get why everyone gets mad when rich person X gets a short sentence and poor person of color Y gets a long one. The answer isn't for X to get more; it's for both of them to get less (or even none!!!). We should level down not up."

According to TMZ, the prosecution "got shut down by both the probation dept. and the judge," and it's a major loss for them.

"The law doesn't consider the possibility some other student was denied admission because Felicity had her daughter's SAT test rigged. You may not like that, but that's what the judge said," TMZ reported, adding that that "undercuts the core of the prosecution's case."

San Diego-based criminal defense attorney David P. Shapiro spoked to Personal Space about Huffman's sentence — and what's likely in store for Lori Loughlin, another celebrity implicated in the scandal. Shapiro says it's not seen as a loss for the prosecution because Huffman is rich and famous and it's a miracle she's doing any time at all. 

“While the sentence imposed may seem to be a slap on the wrist and a product of 'white privilege' by many, 14 days of custody is certainly not a loss for the prosecution in this instance," he explains. "The government, in its sentencing paperwork, was only asking for 30 days custody."

So they get half that.

Shapiro adds that the sentence sends a message to the other offenders that yes, you will likely do time — and since Huffman's crime wasn't horrible by comparison, the other parents' sentences are likely to be longer.

"The 14-day sentence can actually be seen as a win for the government now that word is out to the other defendants that this judge will impose actual custody time to those who are convicted, whether by way of a plea agreement or after trial," he says. 

Los Angeles-based criminal defense attorney David Welch agrees.

“My opinion is that it was not a loss at all for the prosecution," he says. "They asked for 30 days, while the defense team asked for no custody. Many judges will 'split the baby' and it appears that this sentence is exactly that. 

"There are several important positives prosecutors can point to regarding this sentence: Even with the minimal sentence Huffman received, prosecutors are certainly pleased that she will not be able to use her financial means to avoid it and will suffer the indignity of incarceration. I believe the greater message is with regards to the other defendants such as Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli. If Felicity Huffman paid $15,000 to have someone take her daughter's SAT, prosecutors will argue that the $500,000 paid by Loughlin as well as the staged rowing photos point to a much more sophisticated crime warranting lengthy sentences, assuming they enter pleas or are found guilty."

Huffman's sentence involving even two weeks of custody "sets a minimum threshold certain to send a strong message to the other defendants," Welch adds. "Know that the prosecution can and will argue for significant prison time in the event of any conviction.” 

Vanity Fair is reporting that Loughlin and husband Giannulli should expect that harsher punishment.

"The pair are alleged to have invested even more money in the college admissions scandal, and their refusal to plead guilty has many — including Loughlin herself, allegedly — worried about a jail stay much longer than 14 days," says the report.

The two are accused of paying $500,000 to a middleman to have their daughters, Olivia Jade and Isabella Rose, presented on their USC applications as crew team members, complete with photoshopped pictures.

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