How ‘Real Housewives’ Handled Its Stars Who Broke the Law

TV Shows

Shannon Beador (above) isn’t the first Real Housewives star to be taken into police custody, and she likely won’t be the last. But arrests, convictions, and even prison sentences don’t necessarily spell the end of a Housewife’s time on Bravo.

In Beador’s case, the Real Housewives of Orange County star was arrested for drunk driving and hit-and-run in Newport Beach, California, on September 17. Beador’s attorney later told CNN the reality star is “extremely apologetic and remorseful” and “prepared to accept full responsibility for her actions.”

Quite a few other Housewives have been handcuffed over the years, but in many cases, they had charges dropped or their Housewives shows glossed over their misdeeds. But Bravo certainly put the spotlight on the following Housewives and House-Husbands’ brushes with the law. Read on for details on what those stars did and how their shows handled the drama.

Jen Shah

In March 2021, former Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star Jen Shah was charged with running a nationwide telemarketing fraud scheme.

RHOSLC chronicled Shah’s legal issues in its second season, capturing the other Housewives’ reactions to their costar’s arrest. “Honestly, I’m not surprised by this,” costar Meredith Marks said in one Season 2 episode, per E! News. “Too many things didn’t add up, and I suspected that something was going on for a while. And now it’s, like, validated that I was right, I’m not crazy.”

Added Whitney Rose: “Her life didn’t make sense to me and how much money she had. But I did not think it would be something like this. I thought she had a sugar daddy or something.”

Shah continued to star on RHOSLC until the Season 3 finale, which documented the days before her court trial was scheduled to begin. “I’m scared, Heather,” she told costar Heather Rose in that installment, per Vulture. “It will really kill me if I’m away from my family.”

In July 2022, the reality personality pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing. She was sentenced to six and half years in prison this January, but that prison sentence was later reduced by one year. Because of her imprisonment, Shah hasn’t filmed RHOSLC scenes since that Season 3 finale.

Gina and Matthew Kirschenheiter

In January 2019, Real Housewives of Orange County star Gina Kirschenheiter was arrested for drinking and driving in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, according to People, and that July, she pled guilty to one misdemeanor count of driving under the influence of alcohol and one misdemeanor count of driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or more, per E! News.

That low point in Kirschenheiter’s life made it to the Season 14 premiere in August 2019. “The night of the DUI, I went to a local mom event. I was there shopping for leggings and drinking wine, and I wanted to go home,” she said in the episode, per TooFab. “I got in the car — I should never have driven — I got pulled over. And it’s my worst defining moment. Ever.”

In June 2019, Gina accused now-ex-husband Matt Kirschenheiter of domestic abuse, and he was charged with felony counts of domestic violence that September. Matt’s attorney told a judge in court in April 2021 that Matt would enter a guilty plea, according to Us Weekly.

“I was really scared,” Gina said during the RHOC Season 14 reunion in December 2019, per Us. “I ran out of the house, and I rang my neighbor’s doorbell, and I was banging on the door. And he dragged me back in the house. A lot of the neighbors heard. They all called the police, and then the cops came. They arrested him. It was scary. It was really scary.”

Luann de Lesseps

Ex-Real Housewives of New York City star Luann de Lesseps was charged with five crimes — including felony counts of battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest with violence, and corruption by threat — after an incident with police in Palm Beach, Florida, in December 2017, according to TMZ.

De Lesseps delved into that Christmas Eve debacle in RHONY’s Season 10 episode “Every Mayflower Has Its Thorn,” which aired the following June, as Refinery29 recapped. She said that she met an old flame at the same hotel she and ex-husband Tom D’Agostino had their wedding brunch one year prior, and hotel security intervened when she and the unnamed man started kissing in the wrong hotel room. The police were called, and de Lesseps said she closed a bathroom door on one officer’s face “by accident.” She was taken away in a squad car, where she threatened the cops, as an arrest video shows.

The next morning, de Lesseps was restrained by shackles as she appeared in front of a judge, as she recounted to costar Dorinda Medley on RHONY. “Maybe because I tried to slip out of the handcuffs,” she added.

That August, de Lesseps pled guilty to battery, trespassing, and disorderly intoxication, and she was sentenced to one year of probation including random drug testing and 50 hours of community service, and she was ordered to attend two Alcoholics Anonymous meetings a week, as TMZ reported at the time. Despite her rap sheet, de Lesseps starred on RHONY until the show’s Season 14 reboot.

Kim Richards

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ Kim Richards was arrested twice in 2015 — once that April for resisting arrest, public intoxication, and battery on a peace officer after a disturbance at the Beverly Hills Hotel, and again that August for shoplifting $600 of goods from a Target store in Los Angeles.

In September of that year, Richards pleaded no contest to public intoxication and trespassing for the first incident, and she was sentenced to three years of probation and 30 days of community service and ordered to attend AA meetings for a year, according to Reuters. She got a similar sentence that October when she pled no contest to a count of petty theft regarding the Target incident, E! News reported.

The other Beverly Hills Housewives discussed Richards’ legal trouble in the Season 6 episode “Hamptons, 90210,” per Us Weekly. “What the f—k? What’s going on with her?” Lisa Vanderpump wondered. “She has to be taking something. … You cannot tell me Kim Richards in her sane mind would put $600 worth of toys in a shopping cart and walk it out like a shoplifter.”

Fellow RHOBH star Kyle Richards, younger sister of Kim, told Vanderpump she was “so sick of it” and that “obviously, [Kim is] not of sound mind.”

“I heard about what happened with my sister on TMZ,” Kyle said in a confessional on the show. “My sister Kim right now is a very sensitive topic to me, and nobody seems to care. My sister’s name keeps coming up over and over and over again. It’s unf—king believable.”

By that point in the show, Kim was no longer a series regular — she left RHOBH after Season 5 because of her legal issues and her time in rehab, according to People — though she still makes frequent guest appearances.

Teresa and Joe Giudice

In October 2014, The Real Housewives of New Jersey’s Teresa and Joe Giudice were sentenced to 15 months and 41 months in prison, respectively, after getting busted for a long-running financial fraud conspiracy, as a U.S. Attorney’s Office briefing announced at the time.

The couple had previously pled guilty to counts of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, bankruptcy fraud by concealment of assets, bankruptcy fraud by false oaths, and bankruptcy fraud by false declarations earlier that year. Joe also copped up to one count of failure to file a tax return.

Bravo covered the couple’s time behind bars with the three-part special The Real Housewives of New Jersey: Teresa Checks In the following year. During one episode, daughter Gia Giudice, then 14, observed that her mother looked “so relaxed” in prison, per NJ.com. “There’s no bags under her eyes,” Gia added. “She’s so positive. She’s still the same Teresa. She just looks so much better.”

Teresa spent just under a year in prison before getting released in December 2015. Joe was released from prison into ICE custody in March 2019, and after ICE released him that October, he traveled to Italy to appeal his deportation order. Teresa and Joe finalized their divorce in September 2020. She remains a full-time RHONJ cast member, while he only makes sporadic appearances on the show.

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