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Paris Hilton avoids jail in plea deal in drug possession case

Celebrity socialite Paris Hilton has agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanors in her pending drug possession case, netting her a year of probation but no jail time.

Hilton is scheduled to formally plead guilty Monday to misdemeanor drug possession and misdemeanor obstructing an officer before Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Joe Bonaventure.

The 29-year-old was arrested late on Aug. 27 on one felony count of cocaine possession after she opened a Chanel flap bag to get some lip balm and a small plastic bag of cocaine fell out, landing in the palm of a Las Vegas police lieutenant.

The original felony charge would not have resulted in any jail time. By statute a conviction for felony cocaine possession requires mandatory probation.

According to the plea agreement obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, two consecutive six-month sentences in the Clark County Detention Center will be suspended and Hilton will be placed on year long probation.

If Hilton is arrested during her probation, she will have to serve a full year in jail, according to the plea deal.

"Defendant shall stay out of trouble. Defendant agrees that an arrest for any charge, excluding minor traffic violations for which a citation is issued, shall result in the immediate termination of her probation and the execution of the suspended sentences," the plea deal states. A minor traffic violation is anything other than a reckless driving or driving under the influence charge.

Hilton must also successfully complete a substance abuse program, pay a $2,000 fine and perform 200 hours of community service, according to the plea deal. The nature and location of the community service will be determined later.

Clark County District Attorney David Roger said, "We fashioned a resolution which would give us complete control over her future. If she does not toe the line and stay out of trouble she will do one year in the Clark County Detention Center."

Most other defendants would not have a year of jail hanging over their heads for being arrested, Roger said. Normally a conviction would be necessary.

"There are very strict limits on her future conduct. We will not have to litigate whether she was convicted of the charge or whether the charge was a major or minor offense," Roger said.

Roger said prison time was not an option because of the limitations on the charge by statute, and that Hilton won’t get special treatment. She will have to walk through the front doors of the courthouse "just like any other criminal defendant," he said.

David Chesnoff, the attorney representing the hotel heiress, could not be reached for comment Friday.

According to an amended criminal complaint, the obstructing charge was added because Hilton lied to police when she said the Chanel bag wasn’t hers. Hilton told police the purse and the cocaine belonged to someone else, though other things in it — $1,300 cash, credit cards, cigarette rolling papers and a prescription pill to treat asthma — belonged to her. Hilton said she thought the cocaine was gum, according to her arrest report.

"In truth, the Defendant purchased the Chanel handbag months earlier," the complaint states.

The Chanel handbag was featured in numerous tabloid photos the night of the event, and it was soon discovered that Hilton had on July 15 posted a photo of the bag on her Twitter account, saying, "Love my new Chanel purse I got today :)."

Hilton’s latest arrest came when her boyfriend, nightclub mogul Cy Waits, was stopped by a motorcycle officer who said he smelled marijuana coming from Waits’ 2009 Cadillac Escalade on the Strip near Wynn Las Vegas. Hilton was a passenger in the vehicle.

Waits, 34, was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. He spent the night in jail before he was released on $2,000 bail with a Nov. 29 court date.

Since the incident casino mogul Steve Wynn has cut ties with Waits and has banned Hilton from his properties.

Hilton has one previous conviction. She pleaded no contest in 2007 to alcohol-related reckless driving. She was sentenced to 45 days in jail but was released after 23.

Hilton was arrested this summer after the Brazil-Netherlands World Cup match in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, on suspicion of possession of marijuana. The case was dropped at a midnight court hearing.

Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039.

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