The Desperate Housewives actress will be sentenced Sept. 13 for her part in the college admissions scandal
Felicity Huffman is about to learn whether or not she’ll serve any jail time for her participation in the college admissions scandal.
Huffman, 56, is charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, for which she paid $15,000 to facilitate cheating on her daughter Sophia’s SAT test by having a proctor correct the teen’s answers.
The actress pleaded guilty on May 13 to her involvement in the scandal, and her official sentencing hearing is Friday, Sept. 13. PEOPLE previously confirmed that prosecutors recommended Huffman be sentenced to one month in prison, followed by 12 months of supervised release and a $20,000 fine.
A legal expert says that although prosecutors recommended one month of jail time, it’s unlikely she’ll serve any.
“That is such a nominal amount of time, the prosecutors are sending a signal to the judge [that they’re okay with] the judge placing her on probation without imposing jail time,” says LA-based criminal defense attorney J. Tooson, who is not associated with the case. “The argument is the conviction alone is sufficient punishment and a wake up call for the client, for which she must suffer the consequences for the rest of her life. Imposing jail time will not further any public safety goal and the conduct has already been deterred.”
Ahead of the hearing and through her attorneys, Huffman asked the judge on the case for one year of probation and community service, and included a letter to the judge in which she described her “desperation to be a good mother” as part of her reasoning for paying to have her daughter’s SAT exams fixed. The actress also had 27 people write letters of support on her behalf to the judge, including her husband and actress Eva Longoria.
“Please, let me be very clear, I know there is no justification for what I have done. Yes, there is a bigger picture, but ultimately it doesn’t matter because I could have said “No” to cheating on the SAT scores,” Huffman wrote. “I unequivocally take complete responsibility for my actions and will respectfully accept whatever punishment the court deems appropriate.”
Tooson says it’s commonplace for a defendant to submit a written statement and letters of support in these circumstances, and that Huffman’s should work in her favor.
“It is common to submit information to the judge ahead of sentencing,” says Tooson. “Typically it is not going to be that voluminous, you want the judge to actually go through it and strongly consider it. Certainly I think of all the letters, what’s going to be most important to the judge is the letter directly from her.”
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Huffman’s letter is a solid statement that should work in her favor, says Tooson.
“It’s well-written and did come across as sincere, contrite and conveyed that she is deeply sorry for her actions,” he says. “The biggest thing you can do, rather than justify your actions, is accept responsibility. Realize and own up to the mistakes you made and the plan of action moving forward to be positively contributing to society.”
The mother of two, shares daughters Sophia, 19, and Georgia, 17, with husband William H. Macy.