Legal experts suggest that the continued cooperation and apparent remorse of actress Felicity Huffman could help her avoid prison time, The Los Angeles Times reports. Because it appears that Huffman will plead guilty and she continues to express regret for her actions in connection with the headline-making college admissions scandal plaguing a number of high-profile celebrities, Huffman could be sentenced to home confinement instead of prison.
"I am in full acceptance of my guilt, and with deep regret and shame over what I have done, I accept full responsibility for my actions and will accept the consequences that stem from those actions," she said in a statement. "I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community."
Huffman is one of the first parents embroiled in the scandal to submit a guilty plea, so many eyes are on her case as it makes its way through the court system, potentially revealing what other defendants are likely to expect when they go through the same.
Louis Shapiro, a federal defense attorney in Los Angeles, suggests that Huffman's defense team should have very little problem making the case that her crimes are not worthy of prison time.
"She was first out the gate to take responsibility and will be handsomely rewarded for it," Shapiro said, before going on to indicate that especially if other accused individuals are slow to enter their pleas, Huffman will appear especially cooperative and set herself up for success in plea negotiations.Manny Medrano, a former federal prosecutor who is now a defense attorney, points out federal sentencing guidelines that suggest Huffman would likely face between four and 10 months in prison for her plea. At this time federal prosecutors have recommended a sentence on the lower end of that range, though it will be up to the judge to make a final determination. Also working in her favor is the fact that Huffman has no criminal history and that the amount of money involved, $15,000, is relatively small.
The actress is accused of paying the $15,000 for a 36-year-old Harvard graduate to adjust her daughter's answers on the SAT, giving her a 400-point boost over an earlier score on the test.
Other parents involved in the scandal are accused of working with far larger sums of money, such as the $500,000 allegedly paid by William Singer.
Dmitry Gorin, a former prosecutor in Los Angeles who routinely defends high-profile clients like Huffman said that her plea agreement could potentially allow her to serve no prison time at all. In such a case, Huffman could find herself confined to her home being monitored by an ankle monitor.