Arrests of the rich and famous

Cosby

Celebrities don't live like the rest of us - they're prone to spending lots of money on strange things (Bono apparently bought a $1,700 plane ticket to get a hat flown to London), owning elaborate mansions and getting arrested very publicly.

This year started with a bang for one such young man, Nick Carter of the all-male pop group the Backstreet Boys. To the surprise of many, he got handcuffed and taken away in Key West Florida, a place where just about anything goes. Carter and a friend were allegedly so drunk that they were refused service at a bar and then tried to fight with the bouncers when they were ejected. (Do we need to tell you that rarely ends well?)

Let's hope the photogenic blonde doesn't follow in the footsteps of the once-famous (and at least once-blonde) Lindsay Lohan, whose exploits were fodder for evening celebrity gawker shows for years: a website has compiled a list of her arrests, conditions of probation, attempts to complete treatment programs and even her skipping a court date because her passport was allegedly stolen while she was at Cannes for the film festival. It seems now she doesn't make the news at all unless she's in custody (and it wasn't all about booze and drugs, she was picked up once for stealing a $2,500 necklace from an upscale boutique).

Sinatra

Getting arrested can make minor "celebrities" of us all - within our own communities. Imagine looking up your child's team coach and finding that he has a low-level sex offense on his record, or that her teacher was picked up for shoplifting. Most don't want their arrest or conviction records to be public, but they are, and they're easily available - as are property records, divorce records, sexual offenses, and more.

Of course those sorts of small infractions have been overshadowed by the recent seismic arrest of a much bigger, brighter star on more scandalous charges. After years of deflecting blame and even settling with one alleged victim, cultural icon Bill Cosby appeared in court in Philadelphia just before the new year to answer charges of criminal sexual assault that allegedly took place more than ten years ago. Depending on how quickly the wheels of justice turn, 2016 could become the year that Cosby dominates the news because the 78-year-old has been accused of similar headline-grabbing crimes by dozens of women -by one count as many as 40 -- although the statute of limitations has run out on many of the allegations.

Here's proof that an arrest record doesn't always mean a tarnished career for celebrities: Old Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra, was thrown in the clink at the age of 23 back in 1938. While many celebrated the 100-year anniversary of his birth recently, few remembered this scandalous moment in the crooner's past: he was arrested in Bergen County, NJ for adultery. Apparently the woman involved swore a legal complaint when he reneged on his promise of marriage. And then he went on to decades of fame and fortune - you see, they're not like the rest of us.

Jailbird: meet the most-arrested man in the country

Most Arrested Man

Henry Earl is a well-known resident of Lexington, Kentucky, but it's a dubious distinction - many believe he is the most-arrested man in the country.

Some days he's released from lockup in the morning only to be readmitted in the afternoon, a police spokeswoman says. A nonviolent offender, Earl is picked up almost daily by Lexington police for public intoxication, which often includes singing and dancing for tips. On the street he's known as James Brown, apparently for his impersonation of the famous singer.

The 66-year-old has been a repeat "visitor" to the city's jail for decades, starting in the 1970s. There is some dispute over the exact number, but as of news reports in 2013, Earl had stacked up an impressive 1,500 lifetime arrests. Websites feature a string of his mugshots from his numerous /rrests going back to days when he sported a large afro and a wide smile. More recent images of Earl show a stereotypically tired-looking aged man who is also homeless.

Tired of the charade of charging someone with such notoriety back in 2008 when his arrests were becoming a nuisance, a local judge told Earl to clean up his act or he'd face the maximum of 90 days in jail, according to one report that said he was jailed an average of 250 days a year. The judge's tactic obviously didn't work, because five years later Earl was still a habitual offender.

While his story is amusing, Earl has plenty of company across the country, as more than 500,000 are arrested annually for drunkenness, and 1.2 million are arrested for the serious crime of driving under the influence. Most don't want their arrest or conviction records to be public, but they are, and they're easily available - as are property records, divorce records, sexual offenses, and more.

When it comes to alcohol, the United States treads a fine line between encouraging drunkenness and punishing it: despite the plethora of arrests aimed at curbing overindulgence in alcohol, popular culture promotes drinking through an entire genre of movies like Bachelor Party, and is even sneaked into kid's Disney movies. And the has been going on for at least a century: Prohibition in the 1920s sought to end drunkenness by outlawing alcohol possession, but the backlash made folk heroes out of some rumrunners who supplied underground booze, as evidenced by the current film project of Ben Affleck: about Prohibition.

We don't know if Henry Earl will see that movie, or if movies are shown at all in jail, according to a Twitter account (@TheHenryEarl) he signed off in the spring of 2014 to do another 90-day stint in jail.

More than one in four U.S. adults - roughly 65 million people - have an arrest or conviction that shows up in a routine criminal background check

Criminal Background Check

12,198,491 people were arrested in 2012

  • Murder and Non-Negligent Manslaughter 0.09%
  • Forcible Rape 0.15%
  • Robbery 0.85%
  • Aggravated Assault 3.18%
  • Burglary 2.32%
  • Larceny-Theft 10.51%
  • Motor Vehicle Theft 0.56%
  • Arson 0.09%
  • Other Assaults 9.83%
  • Forgery and Counterfeiting 0.55%
  • Fraud 1.26%
  • Embezzlement 0.13%
  • Stolen Property; Buying, Receiving, Possessing 0.80%
  • Vandalism 1.87%
  • Weapons; Carrying, Possessing, etc. 1.22%
  • Prostitution and Commercialized Vice 0.46%
  • Sex Offense (except forcible rape and prostitution) 0.56%
  • Drug Abuse Violations 12.73%
  • Gambling 0.06%
  • Offenses Against the Family and Children 0.88%
  • Driving Under the Influence 10.52%
  • Liquor Laws 3.62%
  • Drunkenness 4.19%
  • Disorderly Conduct 4.46%
  • Vagrancy 0.22%
  • All Other Offenses (except traffic) 28.27%
  • Suspicion 0.01%
  • Curfew and Loitering Law Violations 0.58%
  • Runaways 0.00%
  • Violent Crime Index 4.27%
  • Property Crime Index 13.50%