Q & A: Did Mel Gibson get a special break in his plea deal?

Answer: Legal experts said the resolution of the case was standard for a first-time drunk driving incident. Gibson pleaded "no contest" to one misdemeanor count of driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08% or above. Two other charges were dropped.

Q: What does pleading "no contest" mean?

A: A no-contest plea is not an admission of guilt, but is equivalent to a guilty plea for determining a sentence.

Q: What exactly is Gibson's punishment?

A: He must attend regular Alcoholics Anonymous meetings for a year, go into rehab treatment, pay $1,300 in fines and have his license restricted for 90 days by the Department of Motor Vehicles. He was also sentenced to three years of what is called "supervised probation," meaning that he has to go back to court periodically to show he is abiding by the terms of his probation.

Q: Why did the plea come so suddenly?

A: Gibson was scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 28. But his attorneys decided on "advancing the case," meaning to have it resolved before the arraignment date. This is common in such cases, legal experts said. It also allowed the case to be resolved without a heavy media swarm.

Source: Times reporting

Los Angeles Times