By now, you’ve heard about Justin Bieber’s arrest on Miami Beach for DUI, resisting arrest, and having an expired drivers license. I watched the bond hearing very closely, along with his subsequent release from jail. The question that many are asking is whether Bieber was given the “Star Treatment.” In other words, was Bieber treated any differently than any other person charged with a crime here in Miami? The answer is “Absolutely yes!”
Let’s start with when the bond hearing took place. The strict jail rule followed daily is that all Miami inmates booked into the jail before 9 a.m. will appear before the judge on the afternoon bond calendar that same day. If, however, an inmate is booked after 9 a.m., he/she misses the cutoff and has to appear for bond hearing the following day. Bieber was booked into the jail at 10:30 a.m., well after the 9 a.m. cut off. That means he, like every other non-celebrity inmate should have been held at the jail for an additional day before appearing before the judge. That’s huge! I’ve never seen that accommodation made for anyone in my two decades in the criminal justice arena. Even other celebrities arrested in Miami haven’t been afforded the same treatment. In their defense, Bieber is a big star and probably poses some additional challenges to the jail than average Joe inmates and/or celebs like Dennis Rodman or Bobby Brown. By way of this article, I’m not judging. I’m just pointing out the facts.
Next, let’s talk about the bond hearing itself. I was surprised to see former Chief Judge Joe Farina handling the bond hearing. An extraordinary judge, Judge Farina appeared to handle just Bieber’s case, before all other inmates, at an earlier time than the non famous inmates. Bieber’s attorney even thanked Judge Farina on the record for his special accommodation. Don’t get me wrong, I would want the same special treatment for my clients and would also have passionately thanked the judge. Unfortunately, because most of the clients I defend aren’t “international mega superstars,” I couldn’t get that special treatment for them even if I hit my knees and begged for it.
One aspect of the bond hearing where no preferential treatment was afforded concerns the bond amount itself. Kudos to both the judge and prosecutors for agreeing to the “standard bond” for his charges, which totaled $2,500. I thoroughly appreciate and admire the prosecutors and judge for resisting the temptation of treating Bieber differently by raising up his bond, solely because the cameras are rolling and the world is watching. So many would have done differently and that would have been unfortunate.
The most significant difference between how Bieber was treated vs. the average inmate was in the amount of time it took from his bond hearing to when he was released. I watched in utter shock and amazement when Bieber exited the jail. I could not believe how little time elapsed from the time the judge set the bond to the time he regained his liberty and was posing for the huge crowd outside the jail. Stunned! This wasn’t just fast, this was Usain Bolt, cheetah, lightening, Michael Phelps fast. I’ve never seen or heard of any other inmate leaving jail so quickly after their bond was announced. It typically takes a number of hours after bond hearing until an inmate can be processed and released. I’m still in disbelief. Again, to be “fair and balanced,” I need to mention that a spokesperson for the jail explained that Bieber, unlike other inmates, posed greater challenges and security risks and thus, things had to be done differently. At the same time, however, they also claimed that he received “no special treatment.” Thanks to this article, I think you know better.