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Paris Hilton Cocaine Defense Has "Big Problems"

Paris Hilton may be heading back to jail. She is facing felony charges after police found nearly a gram of cocaine in her purse Friday night in Las Vegas. Now the hotel heiress is reportedly changing her story and saying she may have been set-up.

CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy reported Las Vegas is often where Paris Hilton goes to party -- but the fun ended quickly when she was arrested this weekend.

Paris and the Police
Paris Hilton

Tracy pointed out the recently released police report may offer clues to the socialite's defense strategy.

In the report, police say Hilton told them she was "extremely embarrassed" by the people surrounding the car when her boyfriend was pulled over Friday night. She asked to go inside the Wynn Hotel "to prevent her from being molested by the growing crowd."

Inside the hotel, Paris' night went from bad to worse.

Sgt. John Sheahan, of the Las Vegas Police Department, said, "She extracted a tube of lip balm from her purse. At that time a plastic bindle containing a substance believed to be cocaine fell from her purse in plain view of the metro lieutenant."

Hilton told officers "the purse was not hers, and that she had borrowed it from a friend." As for the cocaine, she "thought it was gum."

Hilton's hairdresser and friend, Michael Boychuck spent several hours with her that same evening.

He told CBS News, "I asked her if she wanted some wine or champagne and she said 'no, just green tea.'"

After her arrest, Boychuck said she sent him a text message. He said, "She just said, 'This is so unfair it wasn't mine I don't do that crap, I'm so upset.'"

Legal experts say playing dumb may be the best defense.

Jim Moret, chief correspondent of "Inside Edition," said, "You think to yourself, if you knew there was cocaine in your purse, why would you open it? That's one argument that her attorney may give."

Now, the celebrity tabloid website TMZ says Hilton is changing her story, claiming a friend borrowed her purse and probably left the cocaine inside and that it could even be a setup.

Hilton, who famously said she was scared straight after being sent to jail in 2007 for driving drunk, now faces anything from probation to four years in prison.

On "The Early Show," CBS News Legal Analyst Lisa Bloom said Hilton has a "big problem" with her defense.

"She's told contradictory to stories," Bloom said. "I'm sure her attorney at this point is saying, 'Why did you talk at all to the police? You should have invoked your right to remain silent.' You can't blame both that it's not my purse, I didn't know the cocaine was in there, and I thought it was gum. That is just logically inconsistent. She should have picked one or better yet remained silent. Unfortunately, she didn't do that. All of these statements can and will be used against her if this goes to trial."

As for the so-called "stupid" defense -- the claim Hilton would be absolutely stupid to open her purse in front of the police officer knowing there was cocaine in it, so, therefore, there's no way that it could have been hers -- Bloom said it's unlikely to fly in court.

She joked, "We have a saying in criminal law: We don't catch the smart ones."

"A lot of people who are criminals do a lot of stupid things," Bloom said. "But I will say this, the police do do have to prove that she knew the cocaine was there. That it was either her cocaine or that she was knowingly carrying it. That's called mens rea in the criminal law. You have to have knowledge. You have to know it was in there. So if she could prove to a judge or jury if it goes to trial that she didn't know, it wasn't hers, it belonged to somebody else, she unknowingly was carrying it, she could have a defense."

Bloom added the contents of the purse may also be problematic for the famous heiress.

She said, "...In the purse that she was carrying, was her prescription medication she concedes, $1,300 which belonged to her. Other items in the purse like lip balm that belonged to her. So it doesn't really make a lot of sense that the only thing in the purse apparently that didn't belong to her was this small bindle of cocaine that she didn't know was there or she thought was gum. That's not plausible story."

Bloom said it's likely that Hilton could face some jail time.

She said, "It's a minimum of probation out there in Clark County, Nevada, but she has a prior history here in California from 2007 of both a DUI and two probation violations. I think under those circumstances the officials would send her to jail, probably just for a short time, though."

"Early Show" co-anchor Erica Hill asked Bloom, "And does her celebrity status have any bearing on this, positive or negative?"

Bloom replied, "I watched the O.J. Simpson in Clark County, Nevada and I know that those officials, law enforcement and prosecutors, will very carefully dot every I and cross every T. They have to do that in a celebrity case. Because they're under the microscope and you're going to have high-profile defense attorneys. But they got a conviction against O.J. And I think they can get a conviction here, too. I think they're very careful and meticulous law enforcement officials out there and they can get the conviction if they want to."

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