Fan Fare

Entertainment behind the scenes

Did prosecutors take a wrong turn with Britney Spears?

October 22, 2008

brit.jpgThe trial of Britney Spears for driving without a license has ended, and even though the singer failed to win a not guilty verdict, she nearly got its legal equivalent with a hung jury, the prosecutors’ decision not to seek a retrial and the judge’s dismissal of the charge. 
But it didn’t come easy – or cheap — as most misdemeanor cases do. And it begs the question of why so much money was spent to try Britney for driving without a license.

Prosecutors have said the case only came to trial because Spears and her legal team refused a plea bargain – unlike the overwhelming majority of defendants in her situation. Prosecutor Michael Amerian had said the city offered Spears a year of probation and a $150 fine, or no probation and a $1,000 fine.

But if convicted Spears would have had a misdemeanor on her record, and the pop star did not want that, said her defense attorney J. Michael Flanagan. 

calculator.jpgSo, the case went to trial.

How much money was spent to try the once-troubled singer who got popped by the cops for driving without a license?

Allan Parachini, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Superior Court, said it’s impossible to put a price tag on one day of court work. But he said the cost includes the salary for a judge, a court reporter, a bailiff and a clerk.

From jury selection through hung jury, the trial of Britney took roughly four days.

Attorney Flanagan said he racked up so much time on the case he stopped billing Spears by the hour.  After the trial, he joked that his fees to Spears are “probably a world record” for a driver’s license case. He told Reuters the amount ended up being the same as what he would charge on a vehicular manslaughter case, even though no one died. He did not give an exact price. 
Flanagan also claimed Amerian pursued the case for political reasons. ”The prosecutor wanted a little attention, he’s running for city attorney,” Flanagan said. 

But last week Amerian said he filed his papers to run for public office in March, well after Spears was charged. “We have never at any time treated this case differently because the defendant is Britney Spears,” he said. 

One thing we do know for certain — other than Spears was cleared – is that she now has a California license, her attorney said. So, she should be able to avoid a repeat this past week’s events! Still, one wonders, was it all worth it?

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis)


California law requires you to get a driver’s license in CA if you establish residence here. She has done that–remember the paparazzi staking out her house? Her mommy testified Brittney “feels like” her home is back east. She’s guilty. They wouldn’t have dropped charges on you or me, they shouldn’t have with Brittney. They did the right thing, she successfully fought it, okay. Move on. More important is our hope that she keeps recovering and that her kids aren’t totally screwed up by the last five years.

Posted by Steve | Report as abusive

This article insinuates that the case went to trial because Britney wanted to fight it, rather than state that Britney wanted to fight it because it was unusually unfair for the prosecuter to not negotiate down to a technical violation. Almost anyone with any kind of first-time traffic offense can plea to a technical violatin after their attorney makes a phone call to the prosecutor. It was unusual in this case they didn’t do it, and 100% based on Britney’s celebrity.

Posted by Jennifer | Report as abusive

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see