It depends, as mentioned above.
For sure, if you read about it on another site, you can figure whatever is posted elsewhere is about 1% true.
Each situation is handled individually. Something that will get one guy locked permanently may only result in a stern IM for another--but that DOES NOT mean we show favoritism. If the first guy has been warned several times for the exact same thing, and does it again, then he will likely be locked. If the next guy does the same thing, and has never caused a problem, then he will get a warning IM. It's rare to lock anyone for a "first offense" except for certain things--deliberate porn posting, threats of violence and such.
Once an account is locked, a notification e-mail is sent to the addy you have associated with your account (it's wise to keep a valid account updated!) by the Staffer who locked it. It is an absolute rule that ONLY the one who locked an account can subsequently unlock it. The Avila assumption is only the one who locked it has all the facts available to make any decisions. I have NEVER seen this overridden. I have ONCE had the ability to unlock an account taken from me--by Ed Sr. Again, I have NEVER seen an account unlocked by anyone other than the one who locked it. Any relevant facts are often given by Staff and/or Sr. Staff to aid in any decision to be made, as we usually post a thread in Staff to discuss account locks.
One thing for sure--and I'm saying this in an effort to clear up a common misconception--most guys who get locked claim it was due to a "grudge" even though in most cases we don't know the guy and have never dealt with him before. We do not have the ability to just make someone "disappear" by locking their account in a secret and vindictive manner. When an account is locked you first find out by trying to refresh a page and having a bright purple "explosion" come up that ends with the words "This account has been disabled. Please contact "firstname.lastname@example.org" for further information." My (assuming I locked the account) notification e-mail automatically gets CC'd to the "email@example.com" account. This account is accessible and monitored by all four Sr. Staff (Ed Sr., Striker, EricE, and Kevin) as well as both Admins (GoatBoy and EdwardAvila). This means EVERYONE who is locked has a direct link to Sr. Staff--and much of Ed Sr. and Striker's time here is devoted to dealing with e-mails to that account. They read every one and pass them on to the one who locked the account if a notification e-mail is not there (we have a funny coincidence where locked members routinely have a bogus e-mail account and then the notification e-mail bounces back).
We have no desire to lose members, so we make every effort to work with the person in order to work things out. All we're really looking for is an absolute understanding of what was unacceptable and a promise to not do it again. I've never heard of anyone demanding any kind of apology (with the possible exception of an apology to another member who was insulted), though we routinely see posted elsewhere that we "demanded an apology and ass kissing"--not true, at least by me. If this is obtained, then we routinely say, "Thank you for your cooperation, I will unlock your account. Please understand we almost never do this twice, so please keep your posts within the Conduct Code." Now THIS is where the first thing I mentioned comes in. If the guy does the same damned thing next week, what are we to do? We boot him for good. Period. The old days of "one more last chance" are gone. Too many have taken advantage of that and abused the kindness of our hosts. We used to call Ed Sr. "Easy Ed" but now we kind of try to hold him back as he's the one most likely to lock an account now--and he never does the paperwork. RHIP, I guess.