Everyone should be treated the same when appearing before the courts.
However, questions on this subject were again raised when a high-profile rugby player avoided conviction for his role in a bar brawl.
Blues player George Moala was discharged without conviction on the assault charge with intent to injure charge, despite a judge telling him he took his statements of remorse "with a large grain of salt".
Judge Rob Ronayne said his decision was not influenced by Moala being a celebrity sportsman, but by the impact it would have on his career and ability to look after his wife and 4-year-old daughter.
The consequences of a conviction, in particular to Moala's rugby career and future prospects, would be out of all proportion to the crime, he said.
The case has raised accusations that New Zealand courts have become a "two-tier system of justice", giving preferential treatment to celebrities.
University of Auckland law professor Bill Hodge says he is concerned by a run of cases involving athletes being discharged without conviction, on the basis it will affect their employment, their ability to travel, or compete in international competitions.
Others, such as Tauranga lawyer Paul Mabey QC, see it differently. In a letter in Saturday's Bay of Plenty Times he argued anyone before the courts can apply for a discharge without conviction and this will be considered according to the facts.
Judges, he says, are the ones to make these decisions and the professor's comments are not only wrong, but risk undermining public confidence in the judiciary.
He makes a good point but this doesn't mean laypeople, or those in academia, cannot have opinions on this issue or disagree with a judge's decision.
In the Moala case, the consequences of conviction would have indeed been harsh for him.
However, there are plenty of talented rugby players who would be more than willing to take Moala's place and keep their nose clean for the privilege.
- Dylan Thorne is the deputy editor of the Bay of Plenty Times.