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Why Suge Knight and Katt Williams Face Different Sentences for the Same Crime (PC 667.5)

Suge Knight

For the past 20 years, few men have cast a shadow over the music industry that looms quite as large as Marion “Suge” Knight’s. The former college football player and bodyguard is a co-founder of Death Row Records. Knight has been a driving force in establishing the West Coast rap scene, teaming with rapper/producer Dr. Dre to promote heavyweight artists such as Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur.

In the rap world, Knight is as famous as he is notorious; as respected as he is feared. His reputation is constructed partly from myths and conspiracy theories surrounding the murders of Shakur and rival rapper Notorious B.I.G., and partly from numerous run-ins with the law over the past 25 years.

In 1987, Knight pleaded guilty to charges of assault with a deadly weapon, and in 1990 to two separate battery charges. He later received probation and a nine-year suspended sentence for another weapon-related assault charge in 1992, a sentence that was later imposed after he was convicted of assaulting a rival gang member at the MGM Grand in 1996. Knight served five years in prison.1

Since his prison sentence ended, Knight has been convicted of two parole violations, which saw him go back to prison a second time om a 10-month sentence. In 2008, he was also accused of beating his girlfriend and threatening her with a knife, but the case was dismissed.2

Robbery (California Penal Code Section 211)

Recently, Knight and comedian Micah “Katt” Williams were arrested and charged as a result of an incident in September. The two men are accused of chasing and forcibly taking the camera of a photographer who encountered them outside a recording studio. The victim is said to have sustained minor injuries.3

Under California Penal Code section 211, robbery is defined as the taking of personal property that is in the possession of someone else from the victim’s person or immediate presence against the victim’s will through the use of force or fear.4 Because this incident was not in an inhabited dwelling, not a robbery in a passenger vehicle, and not near an ATM that the victim had just used, it would be considered second-degree robbery.5 Typically, a conviction for this felony results in a sentence of up to five years in prison.

Enhanced Punishments for Prior Criminal Records (PC 667.5)

Katt_WilliamsSo, why is it that Knight is actually facing 30 years in prison while Williams faces only seven years for the same incident? In Williams’ case, he was arrested for this crime when he showed up for court on an unrelated weapons charge that was already pending. He has had multiple incidents involving criminal and civil allegations over the past eight years, including fights and a police chase on a three-wheeled motorcycle.6

However, unlike Knight, Williams has not been sentenced to prison for any of these incidents, which is why Knight is facing a much longer sentence. Under California Penal Code section 667.5, the court can add additional prison time to a new conviction for a violent crime if the defendant had served prior prison sentences for certain violent crimes within the last 10 years.7

Contact the Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich

Knight’s and William’s cases are prime examples why if you have a previous conviction, and you have been accused of a violent crime, you will need an experienced and aggressive attorney to help you avoid a lengthy prison sentence. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have been successfully defending clients against all types of criminal charges for more than 30 years. Let us help you, too. Contact us today for a free, no obligation phone consultation.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney near you, no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.


1. [Ryan Villarreal, “Suge Knight’s Criminal Record: A History of Drugs, Violence and Traffic Violations,” International Business Times, February 10, 2012, available at http://www.ibtimes.com/suge-knights-criminal-record-history-drugs-violence-traffic-violations-408926.]
2. [Id.]
3. [Kate Mather and Richard Winton, “’Suge’ Knight could face 30 years to life on new criminal charge,” Los Angeles Times, October 30, 2014, available at http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-suge-knight-robbery-charge-20141030-story.html.]
4. [Cal. Pen. Code §211.]
5. [Cal. Pen. Code §212.5.]
6. [Jerry L. Barrow, “Kattpocalypse Now: A Six-Year Timeline of Katt Williams’ Implosion,” The Urban Daily, December 5, 2012, available at http://theurbandaily.com/2012/12/05/kattpacalypse-katt-williams-timeline-wiki/.]
7. [Cal. Pen. Code §667.5.]

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