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Paris Hilton cocaine case poses challenges for prosecutors, legal expert says

Paris Hilton and Cy Waits mug shotsAs Paris Hilton faces arraignment on a cocaine-possession charge after being arrested in Las Vegas, a legal expert says the case might be harder to prove than it appears.

Prosecutors in such minor drug-possession cases face several hurdles, and even when they do get a conviction, typically the punishment is drug treatment, said Dmitry Gorin, a former L.A. County prosecutor and well-known defense attorney.

“First they are going to have prove it’s her purse and then she had custody of it,” Gorin said. “When it comes to celebrities, often assistants and entourage handle things like that, so it becomes harder to show they are the ones with the item.”

Media outlets in Las Vegas reported Monday morning that Hilton told police the purse was not hers.

A police lieutenant discovered the cocaine in a baggy after Hilton was escorted into the Wynn hotel after a traffic stop nearby. The lieutenant said he saw the drugs when Hilton asked for her purse to get a lip balm. 

Gorin said Hilton’s legal team may also challenge the cause for the search in the first place. Police said they pulled over the SUV that Hilton was in after smelling marijuana fumes.

He said that if her legal team can raise questions about whether the marijuana smell came from her SUV, they could get the evidence tossed out. Gorin said ultimately if prosecutors do succeed in convicting Hilton, the punishment would mostly likely involve drug diversion.

The defense lawyer says there are numerous arrests of this nature on the Vegas Strip (minus the celebrity) and most finish in some kind of diversion program unless the person has a lengthy prior record. Las Vegas police said they had enough evidence to arrest Hilton, but it will be up to prosecutors to file charges.

Attorneys for Hilton and her boyfriend, Cy Waits, have suggested that not all the facts in the case have been made public. Hilton’s attorney, David Chesnoff, released a statement urging people not to make a "rush to judgment."

-- Richard Winton

Photos: Paris Hilton and her boyfriend, Cy Waits. Credit: Las Vegas Police Department

Comments () | Archives (29)

Oh give me a break. She is guilty caught with the goods. A simple blood test will show unbreakable proof.

OH MY GOD! She is totally going to get off. Incredible.. What a country! Gotta love lawyers...

How is it that if a person has $ or notoriety they get off with a hand slap, but a person from the wrong side of the tracks with no $ or contacts gets put away for years? Where is the justice?

One thing I don't like about the law is that it wastes taxpayer money on punishing or trying to reform casual drug users.

Not everyone who possesses drugs is a hardcore addict who would profit from rehab. But the legal system doesn't care whether you're an addict or not.

As a result, a lot of beds in rehab get wasted on people who have no business being there because their lives are not at the point of desperation where they are seeking a major change.

We don't approach alcohol this way. With alcohol users, we don't assume that someone is an addict because he or she drinks wine at night with dinner.

With alcohol, we have programs for people to come to when they truly are desperate and not sent there just because they got busted by the cops with a bottle of Merlot.

Wow - it must be nice. Us regular folk wouldn't have a snowball's chance.

total waste of police resources, should have just confiscated the drugs, made sure the driver was sober and sent them on their way.

May end up in drug diversion but it is also a first strike - the next one will be harsher

Of course she will beat the rap. One) she is a celebrity, although I have trouble pin-pointing her area of expertise. 2) She has a lot of $$ 3) She can hire the best defense attorney available. 4) These people know all the tricks to avoid being convicted.

The State does not need to prove it was her purse. They only need to prove that she had custody and control of it. That doesn't seem too hard since she knew that the lip balm was in there. She knew about the balm but not the coke? She better have a witness that confesses to it being hers and who is willing to take the rap. Every person I have ever seen busted for possession starts out by saying that the purse or the car or whatever, was not theirs. I assure you that this is not the first time the judge heard that story. No judge I was ever in front of as a lawyer would buy that story. She would be better off to take the rap, do some evaluation and treatment prior to the case, and then beg for mercy. It is true that these types of cases usually end up in probation and treatment, but she does have a record. In any event, these start to add up--if she doesn't get herself straight she is going to end up in prison.

Aw, come on, Paris, you don't think anybody believes it's ont your purse? And do ypu really think anybody really cares?

"These pants ain't mine!" Anyone ever hear that one before??

if the purse contain her driver license and personal belonging, the it is her purse. They also should take her blood and test it for trace of drug. Plus her prior drug use habit. Even Ray Charles can see that she is GUILTY.

Throw away the key for a few years....it'll help her!

But if she goes into court insisting it wasn't her purse, she could be charged with perjury. I can't see her using someone else's lip balm, after all!

In Nevada they lock people up for smoking week, so if they wanted to prosecute her they could.

To Patricia: If we follow your argument, we also waste time prosecuting casual burglars and casual wife abusers.

If you are driving through rock springs Wyoming. look out. the cops pull anyone under 30 over and search their car. Usually saying a tail light is out and then arrest you for MJ possession even the smallest amount. Everybody then gets the money from you. This is how they balance the city budget. Do not drive through this town. Looks like the cops in Vegas have the same idea..

It's always been about money and status in this country. Actually, it's been like this everywhere since the beginning of money and power in the human race.

If nothing is going to come of her law-breaking then why even waste the readers' time telling us about the arrest in the first place??? I am so sick of these celebrities and the sheeple who promote them as the new gods. They are aging imperceptibly with the rest of us...A friend said it best: When your 20 being a waste is somewhat fashionable...but when your 30, its pathetic.



AGE: 34

Paris Hilton should contact Linsday for advice..

Of course, she will get off - because she has MONEY.

She's not going to get off. She will plead guilty and get drug diversion ... just like the millions of others of "casual" (read: first time they got caught) uses have done in the past. She will pass diversion and the case will be removed from her records. Does seem like a waste of taxpayer money, so maybe she should pay for the whole thing and we can call it even. I'm sure they will find that the search was legal, since anything inside the vehicle was fair game once the cops smelled the odor of marijuana inside the passenger compartment. Once again though, it's a waste of money (not to mention newspaper space) to even worry about Ms. Hilton and her continuing inability to abide by the law.

again two sets of rules.
Those for the rich and another set for the poor.

Hey,Paris, why don't you spare us your trail of "fame" (actually shame) and MOVE to Paris.... as in France. I am sure they would welcome you with open arms. And we would be finally rid of a thorn in our sides. Your 15 minutes expired years ago. Either grow up or get the heck out of here.

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