On March 27th, the world watched — horrified and intrigued — as Will Smith stepped onstage at the 94th Academy Awards and slapped Chris Rock soundly across the face.
Since then, the Internet has been abuzz with theories surrounding the incident. Was it staged? Was it personal? Was it merely a stunt, was Will Smith doing a bit, and was Chris Rock in the know?
Regardless of the specific circumstances, a crime did occur. Will Smith slapped Chris Rock exceptionally publicly. Anyone else may have suffered significant repercussions for similar actions, including jail time.
Why didn't that happen to Will Smith?
What Crime did Will Smith Commit When He Slapped Chris Rock?
Technically, Will Smith committed an act of battery — or, to be more specific, he intentionally applied force to another person's body harmfully and without their consent.
This is very much a crime. People get arrested for it every day. If a plaintiff or their representation could demonstrate the elements of battery (which include harm, contact, and intent), the defendant could be responsible for damages.
It's important to note that the slap was a crime regardless of the joke that seemingly triggered it. As an expert told the San Francisco Chronicle: “…Words, no matter how opprobrious, do not give you justification to hit another person.”
Why Didn't Will Smith Get Arrested?
There are a couple of simple answers to this question.
It also doesn't seem that the local authorities would have been inclined to expend the necessary resources to charge such a high-profile individual. Smith clearly has access to high-quality legal representation. Any case against him would require incredible time and funds — resources that could likely be used elsewhere.
Finally, although it's not a legal consequence, Smith did receive a slap of his own: He was banned from the Academy Awards for the next decade due to his actions.
This has panned out mainly due to the fame and reputation of the people involved. Most people associated with misdemeanor battery won't walk away entirely unscathed, making working with a skilled criminal defense attorney a must.
Need a Strong Defense in Your Philly Criminal Case? Call D'Intino Law
If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges or a legal investigation, you need to make sure that you have skilled, empathetic representation ready. Experienced criminal defense lawyers may be able to negotiate for you to avoid steep fines and even jail time — but you've got to make sure you get the ball rolling quickly!
Reach out to the team at D'Intino Law for more information about what we offer. We look forward to putting our legal knowledge and experience to work for you.