It’s a tragic Hollywood cliché: Adorable child star takes a wrong turn and ends up on a dark path to adulthood. Sometimes, they’re able to leave the drama in their rear view. But sometimes, problems persist. Wonderwall.com is rounding up some of the child actors who’ve found themselves in trouble with the law over the years. Let’s start with this actor… In July 2021 at 35, Drake Bell — who appeared mostly on episodic television in the ’90s before becoming a Nickelodeon star on “The Amanda Show” and “Drake & Josh” — was sentenced to two years of probation and 200 hours of community service after pleading guilty to felony attempted child endangerment and a misdemeanor charge of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles. The case involved claims that he’d had an inappropriate and at times sexual in nature online relationship with an underage girl who attended one of his concerts in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2017. “I accept this plea because my conduct was wrong,” Drake said during his sentencing. “I’m sorry that the victim is harmed in any way — that was obviously not my intention. I have taken this matter very, very seriously, and again, I just want to apologize to her and anyone else who may have been affected by my actions.” He’s been in trouble with the law before: He was charged with DUI in 2010 related to a 2009 incident and again in 2015. Following his second arrest, he was sentenced to four days in jail and four years of probation and had to attend an alcohol education program.
Keep reading to see more child stars who’ve faced legal troubles…
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Haley Joel Osment charmed audiences as a boy in 1999’s “The Sixth Sense.” He found himself charged with three misdemeanors in 2006, when he was 18, after police nabbed him for driving under the influence. Though Haley wasn’t old enough to drink, his blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit; he was also charged with marijuana possession. He was fined, put on probation and sentenced to 60 hours of alcohol rehab but — unlike so many others — has stayed out of trouble ever since.
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In June 2021 at 29, Kyle Massey — who’s best known for playing Cory Baxter on the Disney Channel shows “That’s So Raven” and “Cory in the House” — failed to show up at a criminal court arraignment after being accused of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes in 2018 and 2019. He was sued by the same 13-year-old minor in civil court for $1.5 million in March 2019 for allegedly sending “numerous sexually explicit text messages, images, and videos” via Snapchat. He’s denied the sexual misconduct accusations and had claimed he’s being extorted.
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Shia LaBeouf rose to fame on “Even Stevens” back in 2000 when he was just 14. Unfortunately for Shia, while his career flourished, so did his troubles with the law. At 19 in 2005, he was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon after he showed up on his neighbor’s doorstep in Los Angeles with a kitchen knife. In 2007, he was arrested for misdemeanor criminal trespassing after he refused to leave a Walgreens in Chicago. Shia was again arrested in L.A. in 2008 and charged with misdemeanor drunk driving for refusing to take a Breathalyzer. He went three years without getting into trouble — then he was handcuffed after a bar fight in Sherman Oaks, California, in 2011. Although he wasn’t ultimately arrested in that incident, he was taken into custody in New York City three years later in 2014 when he allegedly spat and cursed at police officers. In October 2015, Shia was arrested for public intoxication, and in 2017, he was arrested two different times — first for misdemeanor assault and harassment, then for intoxication, disorderly conduct and obstruction. In September 2020, he found himself in hot water yet again when he was charged with misdemeanor battery and petty theft following an altercation that June. In 2020, ex-girlfriend FKA Twigs filed a lawsuit against him alleging emotional and physical abuse during their relationship.
After working as a child actress on Nickelodeon in the ’90s, Amanda Bynes seemed to seamlessly transition to a successful career as an adult actress — until 2012. That year, she was charged with driving under the influence after she side-swiped a sheriff’s patrol car in West Hollywood. Later that year, she was cited for driving with a suspended license and was put on probation. The legal drama didn’t end there: In 2013, she was arrested for criminal possession of marijuana, attempted tampering with evidence and reckless endangerment after she was allegedly seen throwing a bong from the window of her 36th-floor apartment in New York City (she claimed it was a vase). But Amanda was arrested and underwent a psychiatric evaluation — the first of many (the case was eventually dismissed after she underwent counseling). Later that same year, Amanda was placed on an involuntary psychiatric hold after she allegedly started a fire in a stranger’s driveway in Thousand Oaks, California. Her last arrest came a year later when she was taken into custody for her second DUI. After lengthy treatment for mental health issues, Amanda — who in 2014 was put under a conservatorship led by her mother — is now reportedly doing much better. In 2019, she graduated from the Los Angeles-based Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and in 2020, she announced that she was engaged to Paul Michael, a man she reportedly met in rehab earlier that year.
He became America’s darling in 1990 when he starred as Kevin McCallister in “Home Alone,” but Macaulay Culkin didn’t stay on the straight and narrow once he grew up. While visiting Oklahoma City at 24, he was charged with possession of marijuana and medication without a prescription after officers pulled over his friend, who was speeding, and discovered passenger Macaulay with 17.3 grams of weed, eight Xanax pills and 16 doses of clonazepam, a sedative used to treat anxiety and seizures, CNN reported after the 2004 incident. These days, Macaulay is a new dad — he welcomed son Dakota in April 2021 with girlfriend Brenda Song — and acting again.
Joey Cramer — as seen here at the premiere of “Flight of the Navigator” — was an adorable child star in 1986. But fast-forward 30 years: The former Disney actor was arrested for holding up a bank in British Columbia, Canada, in April 2016, when he was 42. Joey was charged with robbery, disguise with the intent to commit an indictable offense (he allegedly wore a wig), failing to stop for a peace officer and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle. He was sentenced to about two years behind bars plus two years of probation and was required to get counseling and undergo residential treatment for substance abuse.
Lindsay Lohan made a name for herself in Hollywood thanks to her role in 1998’s rebooted “The Parent Trap” and went on to have a successful career through her teens and early 20s. But in 2005, she had her first run in with the law — and it unfortunately would not be her last. That first incident — a personal-injury lawsuit filed by a couple who claimed they were hurt in a car accident with the star — would be one of very many run-ins, most of which also involved vehicles. She’d go on to be arrested for two DUIs, charged with felony grand theft, violating court orders, suspicion of leaving the scene of a car accident and assault charges over just an eight-year period.
Former Disney actor Orlando Brown, who starred on “That’s So Raven,” had four bench warrants out for his arrest after a DUI back in 2011. This followed a 2007 arrest for drug possession. Unfortunately for Orlando, that wasn’t the end of his legal woes: In February 2016, the actor was parked in a police station lot, of all places, when he allegedly hit his girlfriend. Cops were notified to check on the arguing couple, and when Orlando was detained, law enforcement reportedly found him in possession of meth. He was arrested another string of times in 2018, and even did a stint on “Dr. Phil” and attended rehab. He’s now active on social media, where he often shares photos with his new wife.
Aaron Carter, the little brother of Backstreet Boys singer Nick Carter, also found fame in the pop-music world at a young age. Then in 2008 at 20, Aaron was busted in Texas for having two ounces of marijuana in his possession. Aaron also got into financial trouble in 2009 while he was doing a stint on “Dancing With the Stars” when he found out he owed millions of dollars in unpaid taxes. The pop singer filed for bankruptcy in 2013. Unfortunately, his troubles in life weren’t just legal — he also had some familial drama in 2019 when brother Nick and sister Angel got a restraining order against him after he allegedly made disturbing threats. These days, he appears to have settled down: In 2020, he got engaged to influencer Melanie Martin, with whom he’s expecting a son in November 2021.
“Diff’rent Strokes” star Dana Plato had a hard life after finding fame at a young age. The actress, who long struggled with addiction issues, got into serious trouble in 1991 when she attempted to rob a video store at gunpoint. It wouldn’t be her only run-in with police: In 1992, she was arrested for forging a Valium prescription. Seven years later, Dana tragically died at 34 after overdosing on a painkiller and Valium. The Oklahoma City medical examiner later determined that her death was a suicide.
Another one of the “Diff’rent Strokes” child actors, Todd Bridges, has also been in trouble with the law. The actor was addicted to crack cocaine for years and in 1988 was arrested then tried for the attempted murder of a Los Angeles drug dealer. He was acquitted but later got into another scuffle that almost landed him in jail once again: Todd was attacked by a tenant to whom he was renting a room in 1993 during a rent dispute and stabbed the man in the chest with a kitchen knife after the man allegedly attacked him with a sword. The charges were eventually dropped after it was determined that Todd acted in self defense.
The name Jason James Richter might not ring a bell, but his breakout role sure will — he starred in “Free Willy” in 1993. Unfortunately, when he was all grown up he was arrested in 2018 for misdemeanor domestic violence after a fight with his girlfriend at the time.
When a late-night text came through on former “My Wife and Kids” child star Jennifer Freeman’s phone on Aug. 1, 2010, her then-husband, NBA player Earl Watson, became suspicious and checked it. The actress had a pretty extreme reaction: According to divorce documents he filed less than two weeks later, Jennifer was so mad he’d looked at her device that she allegedly hit him in the face twice, bit him on the wrist and chest and attacked him with an iron. Though they later (briefly) reconciled, his account of the allegedly violent encounter made headlines. They’d go on to divorce in 2015. The actress working today and also hosts the “Be Free” podcast.
Marcus T. Paulk played young Myles on the popular show “Moesha” in the ’90s. The former child star was arrested following a domestic violence incident in 2013 in which his girlfriend, Andi Roxx, accused him of punching and kicking her in the chin and stomach. According to TMZ, he avoided jail time by taking a plea deal. Then in 2015, he was arrested on DUI and drug possession charges while partying before the Super Bowl in Arizona.
Tatum O’Neal may have won an Oscar as a child actress — she was just 10 when she took home an Academy Award for her performance in 1973’s “Paper Moon” — but it didn’t help her escape the dangerous path many follow after finding fame at a young age. The actress, who’s long struggled with addiction issues, was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance after New York City cops busted her buying crack in 2008. Later that year, she pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct related to the arrest and briefly attended an outpatient drug treatment program.
Jaimee Foxworth starred on “Family Matters” as a kid but began abusing drugs and alcohol in her teens. She went down a dark path and got into the adult film industry at 19 to support her drug habit. Fortunately, she was able to turn her life around: She did a stint on “Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew” and credited a pregnancy with helping her tackle her problems with substance abuse. In 2009, she encountered new issues: A judge granted her a temporary restraining order against her longtime boyfriend after he allegedly physically and verbally abused her. The actress claimed in court documents that Michael Shaw “grabbed her arm and dragged her along the floor through broken glass,” TMZ reported, and on another occasion she said he tried to push her out of a car while she was feeding their infant son. In 2014, she revealed on “Oprah: Where Are They Now?” that she and her son’s dad later reconciled.
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