While season 17 “American Idol” winner Laine Hardy tries to breathe new life into his music career after a tumultuous year that included being arrested in April 2022 following accusations that he bugged an ex-girlfriend’s dorm room and parting ways with his record label, the Louisiana native is now working to start fresh.
The 22-year-old country crooner is nearly three months into a pretrial diversion program for nonviolent offenders, according to The Advocate, which could keep him from being formally charged and having to serve jail time. East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore called it “the best alternative to a very poor decision on [Hardy’s] part,” according to the outlet.
Here’s what you need to know:
Why Was Laine Hardy Arrested?
Hardy won “American Idol” at age 17 and hit the ground running with a record deal, world travel, debut album release, and several years of big-time appearances, including a dream-come-true debut at the Grand Ole Opry in 2021 and an appearance at the 2022 Rose Bowl Parade.
But on April 29, 2022, The Associated Press first reported, Hardy was arrested in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, “after being accused of putting a listening device in his ex-girlfriend’s college dorm room” at Louisiana State University (LSU). He was booked into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on one felony count for “interception and disclosure of wire, electronic or oral communication,” according to an April 27 LSU arrest warrant affidavit obtained by E! News, and was released without bail.
According to The Advocate, most of the recordings took place over several weeks that February, capturing private conversations between Hardy’s ex-girlfriend and her roommate, as well as phone calls with her mom, but the device wasn’t discovered until April. When the ex-girlfriend confronted Hardy, the documents showed, he admitted to bugging her room and she provided screenshots of his admission to the police.
In a since-deleted tweet, Hardy issued the following statement after his arrest, per Music Mayhem Magazine:
Earlier today, I received a warrant due to allegations made against me and have been fully cooperative with the Louisiana State University Police Department. I understand that my career has thrust me into the public spotlight, and I embrace that wholeheartedly as my entire world belongs to my music and my fans. However, due to the sensitive nature of this allegation, I humbly ask for privacy at this time. I have the utmost respect for the law and will assist in their investigation as needed moving forward.
In March 2023, according to The Advocate, Hardy began a “pretrial diversion program” via the East Baton Rouge District Attorney’s office. If he successfully completes the program, Moore told the outlet, he won’t be formally charged, meaning that he will have a clean record and avoid jail time. He was facing between two and 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 if convicted.
What Kind of Program Does Laine Hardy Have to Complete?
Moore told The Advocate that prosecutors had worked with Hardy and his attorney over the past year and coordinated with the victim — Hardy’s ex-girlfriend — about different ways to resolve the case. Since the arrest was Hardy’s first offense and was nonviolent, the paper reported, he was a good candidate for the pretrial diversion program.
“We just felt that under the circumstances, and after consultation with the victim, that this was the best alternative to a very poor decision on his part,” Moore said.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, pretrial diversion (PTD) programs “divert certain offenders from traditional criminal justice processing into alternative systems of supervision and services. PTD programs provide prosecutors with another tool – in addition to the traditional criminal justice process – to ensure accountability for criminal conduct, protect the public by reducing rates of recidivism, conserve prosecutive and judicial resources, and provide opportunities for treatment, rehabilitation, and community correction.”
The program Hardy is participating in is designed to help offenders make better decisions in the future, Moore told The Advocate. The expectations and goals of the program are made on a case-by-case basis for each person by program coordinators, but “they often include community service and targeted behavior management courses,” the outlet reported.
“When you get into diversion, you’re diverted out of system,” Moore explained. “You’re not formally charged and if you complete all of the conditions, you will not be formally charged ever.”
Before entering the program, according to The Advocate, Hardy was first evaluated for any conditions he may suffer from and to try to determine the “root causes of his behavior and what treatments can help him.”
The City of Baton Rouge’s description of its pretrial program says participants are assigned an officer who becomes their point of contact, monitoring their progress toward the requirements set to complete the program. Hardy enrolled in early March and it’s expected to take “a minimum of six months to a year to finish,” according to Music Mayhem Magazine. Once he completes the program, “he can petition the court to have the arrest removed from his criminal record, according to the DA,” The Advocate reported.
Can Laine Hardy Keep Performing While Completing His Pretrial Program?
The program Hardy is enrolled in doesn’t keep him from working on his music, including booking occasional performances or appearing on “American Idol,” which he did during the season 21 auditions that aired in March.
He’s been writing new material and working as an independent artist since he parted ways with his record label in Fall 2022, after working with the label since his “Idol” win.
In a post on Instagram, he wrote, “I was just 17 years old when I first tried out for American Idol, and at the time, I couldn’t have ever imagined where I was headed. Since then, I’ve been able to tour across America, play for our Troops in Asia, and make new fans in Europe. I had to grow up quickly and I am still learning more about myself every day.”
Hardy continued, “The teams at 19 Entertainment and Disney Music Group have given me so much support and guidance, and I will forever be grateful. And now it’s time for me to take my career in a new direction and I am figuring that out. Stay tuned for what’s coming next. Love y’all.”
In early May, he was a featured performer at Heritage Days in Liberty, Mississippi, alongside The Band Hardy — a group he formed with one of his brothers, their cousin Casey Hardy, and a couple of friends before he hit it big on “Idol,” according to The Democrat. Many fans shared photos on the event’s Facebook page, and his cousin posted a collection of pics from the recent concert.
In addition to Liberty Days, Hardy periodically performs concerts and shares acoustic versions of old tunes or new recordings via Instagram. He still has a passionate fan base, including a Facebook fan group with over 30,000 members.