Socialite, heiress and sometimes singer/actor Paris Hilton was arrested late Friday, Aug. 27, on suspicion of felony cocaine possession after the SUV driven by her boyfriend Cy Waits was pulled over by Las Vegas police for allegedly smelling of marijuana smoke. While police have refused to specify as to whether or not any marijuana was actually confiscated, they have released a statement alleging that Hilton was carrying a small amount of cocaine in her purse at the time of her arrest, which fell out onto the floor in front of the officers. According to a report on People.com, the arresting officers have also stated that, at the time of her arrest, Hilton also allegedly claimed that the purse in question was not hers, and that she thought that the bag of cocaine was actually chewing gum.
Not surprisingly, Hilton’s police statement is being met with skepticism by the public and the media. This is the second time this year Hilton has been arrested on drug charges. Earlier this year, the heiress was arrested in South Africa for alleged marijuana use. Charges in that case were dropped when authorities concluded that someone else had used the drug. For similar reasons, legal experts have gone on record with the Los Angeles Times to say that convicting Hilton of the possession charges may be difficult. Celebrities often have assistants and others they come into contact with who have the ability to tamper with a star’s personal belongings without their direct knowledge.
If the socialite were actually to be convicted of the charges, the most she would probably face, according to some experts, is drug counseling and/or probation, despite having a prior record and conviction for alcohol-related reckless driving in 2007 with jail time served.
There is a well-established record of celebrity convictions not resulting in the same kind or length of punishment that a regular person would receive. Robert Downey Jr.’s well-documented decades of drug abuse and convictions did little to slow down the amount of work he was able to do throughout the time he was allegedly using. The actor was still courted for roles and even won a Golden Globe and other awards for his work during that period.
Scott Weiland of the band Stone Temple Pilots has been in rehab multiple times over the years, and has his own convictions for alcohol and drug-related offenses, but has managed to work steadily in both Stone Temple Pilots and, for a while, the supergroup Velvet Revolver without any of his legal troubles posing too much of a problem for his overall career prospects.
Like Downey and Weiland, Hilton is both rich and famous, and therefore unlikely to suffer too many setbacks to her fame or what career options she already has if convicted on these allegations. Those in the general public who already think little of her because of previous exploits will retain their negative opinions and perhaps strengthen them, while her fans will likely be mostly unfazed since they already know her past scrapes.
Winton, Richard “Paris Hilton cocaine case poses challenges for prosecutors, legal experts say.” LosAngelesTimes.com
Reaves, Jessica “Will Robert Downey Jr’s case spark a change in drug sentencing?” Time.com
“Scott Weiland” Answers.com
Derschowitz, Jessica “Paris Hilton marijuana charges dropped in South Africa.” CbsNews.com
Ritter, Ken “Paris Hilton arrested on cocaine charge.” HuffingtonPost.com
Gray, Mark “Paris Hilton’s Explanation: I thought the cocaine was gum.” People.com