My Case of the YouTube Star Who Jumped off Hotel Balconies

“Court Case Friday”

YouTube Star Hotel Jumper

I presided over an interesting case involving a YouTube “Star.”  The young man filmed himself jumping off very high balconies or roofs of hotels into their swimming pools.  Apparently, when he posted the videos on YouTube, he had so many “views” and “likes” that advertisers were eager to sponsor his site. It was quite lucrative, and he planned on making a career out of it.  This was his pathway to fame and fortune.

Arrested at Newport Beach Hotel

One afternoon, he jumped from the eighth-floor balcony of a Newport Beach Hotel. The police were ready and arrested him for criminal trespass.

“Indicated Sentence”

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His criminal defense asked me for an “indicated sentence.” I said that if the defendant wanted to plead guilty, I would place him on two years probation on the conditions that he violate no new laws and complete 80 hours of community service.  The defendant obviously had too much time on his hands, and the eighty hours of community service would do him good. The attorney agreed to recommend the sentence to his client. I continued the case for plea and sentencing.

Crash Landing at Laguna Beach Hotel

While the case was pending, the defendant jumped off a high balcony of a Laguna Beach Hotel. But this time he missed. He hit the concrete decking a few feet from the pool and shattered both legs. He almost killed himself. This failed prank received a lot of regular media attention.

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Actual You Tube Photo

Plea and Sentence

It was several months before the young man could come to court.  He used a walker, and he could barely move. His injuries were probably permanent. His YouTube career was over.

His attorney approached the bench.  I said that because of the new law violation, I was upping my sentence to three years probation with 120 hours community service.  The attorney was relieved that I hadn’t added any jail time. I explained that I was giving the defendant partial “credit for injuries received.”

The defendant was bitter. He “copped an attitude.” He was outraged that he was going to be placed on probation. He was livid that he was going to be ordered to spend 120 hours of his life doing community service work. He was angry at me and his attorney, as if we had caused his problems. 

When the defendant got uppity with me, I firmly explained that the community service was in lieu of jail. That quieted him down.  By that time, I was fully prepared to sentence him to jail.

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Actual Newspaper Photo

When the attorney explained the “facts of life,” that if he didn’t accept my deal, he would be doing serious jail time, he reluctantly pled guilty. He still had the attitude.

The criminal mindset.

There are several things common with the criminal mindset. First, they don’t think they will be caught. Second, when they are caught, they don’t want to accept responsibility for their conduct. Third, when they ultimately get sentenced, they whine and complain.  “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.”


The “jumper” kept getting into trouble with the law. His actions were apparently drug related. Another attorney convinced a judge to order residential rehab in hopes of saving the young man’s life and getting a fresh start. I pray it works. I wish him well. Everybody deserves a second chance.

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