We’ve talked before about arbitration and how it can be used to resolve contract disputes (both domestically and internationally). But what if arbitration isn’t an option? What if you’ve found yourself in a bad situation (by your own choices or the actions of others) and may be facing some jail time?

The first thing that you need to do is calm down. Work with your lawyer and whatever your choices might have been that led you to this point, make sure that now you are playing within the bounds of the law. Start getting your ducks in a row and, if you’re facing legal trouble in the US, make sure you have enough money to pay your bail (if you’re wondering ‘how does bail work‘, now is the time to learn) so that you don’t have to spend the days leading up to your trial in custody.

Finally, don’t give up hope. Your life is not over. There are other young professionals who have found themselves in less than ideal situations and have managed to fight their way back to professional success (within the law this time). Need some convincing? Consider the following examples.

Richard Branson

Richard Branson, the world famous billionaire who is known for his philanthropy and entrepreneurial spirit (as well as being the brains behind the Virgin brand) got off to a rocky start in life. According to an article in Success, he struggled with dyslexia and numbers as well as having several brushes with the law. It was a prison scare on potential charges of tax evasion that finally scared him straight and it seems he’s learned to manage his money better since those early days of trying to fudge his numbers.

Hunter S. Thompson

Technically, the late Thompson isn’t an entrepreneur, but he is a pioneer. The founding father of Gonzo journalism, Thompson had many brushes with the law and spent a fair amount of time in jail–brilliantly chronicling it all the while. Now that’s a lifestyle that many journalists aspire to emulate for themselves because they feel that it helps add reality and flair to their writing.

Georgia Durante

Georgia Durante’s life could probably give Hunter S. Thompson’s a run for its money. After becoming a legitimate model and the spokesmodel for Kodak before she reached legal adulthood, she married a mobster named Joe Lamendola and adopted his life of crime for herself, acting as a getaway driver for his crew. After deciding to go legit and divorce her abusive husband, Durante took the things she learned about driving from her mob days and put them to work in her own business—a school for performance and stunt drivers. Her company has stunt driven for more than a hundred movies!

Kim Dotcom

A famous hacker and web based entrepreneur, Kim Dotcom has been convicted of and served suspended sentences for computer fraud, data espionage, embezzlement and insider trading and, in 2012, he was arrested and charged with pirating crimes that resulted in more than five hundred million dollars in lost revenue for the entertainment industry. He has since set up extensively encrypted cloud storage company, Mega. He’s also working on a new music streaming service named Baboom.
What’s your favorite Cinderella story? Who’s your favorite “down but never out” entrepreneur who inspires you when you have hard times?