Bill Cosby faces the possibility of spending the rest of his life behind bars after being convicted of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004, but some legal experts believe the disgraced actor and comedian may actually never set foot in a prison.
Cosby was found guilty on three charges this week and faces up to 30 years in prison when he is sentenced. But a number of legal experts believe that Cosby will be able to remain in his home as the expected appeal process drags out for months, and possibly years. Joey Jackson, a legal analyst for CNN, says all signs point to Cosby being able to remain at home as this process plays out.
As Jackson noted, Montgomery County Judge Stephen T. O’Neill has already shown a tendency to allow Bill Cosby to remain on home confinement, citing his age and deteriorating health. Once at home, Cosby will be able to stretch out the appeal process, possibly for years, Jackson said.
“I think he’ll ask the court and do whatever he needs to, to have his client remain out at liberty until these issues are decided, whether it was appropriate to allow all those accusers to testify, and how prejudicial and unfair would that be,” Jackson said.
Others agree with Jackson’s assessment that Bill Cosby may never see the inside of a prison cell. Brian Claypool, a Los Angeles defense attorney, told People that Cosby has an advantage in that his first trial ended in a hung jury, allowing him to seek appeals on several grounds.
“He has a good shot at posting an appellate bond, and then he’ll be out on house arrest, which is basically what he’s on now,” Claypool said. “That is important. It could take a couple of years — the appeal — and they will go all the way to the state supreme court, and I think he’ll be on house arrest the entire time. He had a hung jury on the first trial and that will play into whether or not he goes home during as they appeal.”
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Claypool said the appeal process could play out for up to five years. If the 80-year-old Cosby is still alive at that point, he may be able to receive a lighter sentence because of his age. Claypool predicted that Cosby will likely see a sentence of 21 years, meaning he would only serve seven or eight before he would be eligible for parole.
The answer on whether or not Bill Cosby actually faces prison time will not be answered immediately. The judge declared on Friday that Cosby will undergo a sentencing assessment, saying that sentencing will take place in 75 days.