LOS ANGELES (AP) — Justin Bieber's court cases on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border could complicate the pop star's jet-setting ways as his troubles bring more scrutiny by judges and prosecutors,
Legal experts said a decision by Toronto authorities to charge the 19-year-old Bieber with assault on Wednesday makes his legal situation more complicated and difficult to untangle. He is already facing a driving under the influence case in Miami and remains under investigation for felony vandalism in California.
All the cases are in the early stages and it's uncertain whether the Grammy-nominated singer might be convicted of any charges. But if he is, it would impact how judges deal with him, said Stanley L. Friedman, a former federal prosecutor who now practices criminal defense in Los Angeles.
"I think the legal system is much more likely to treat him harshly as somebody who needs to be taught a lesson," Friedman said. "Now he's become a national poster child for being a bad boy."
Andrew Flier, a criminal defense attorney who has represented sports stars and actors, said immigration issues are likely Bieber's biggest problem at this point. If the singer is convicted, he could get closer scrutiny when traveling from his homeland of Canada to the U.S., where he now lives.
"Multiple convictions even on misdemeanors could be troublesome to the non-citizen," Flier said.
Bieber has pleaded not guilty to DUI, resisting arrest without violence and driving without a valid license in the Miami case.
A preliminary toxicology report released Thursday showed that he tested positive for marijuana and the anti-anxiety drug Xanax. Bieber told police after the arrest that he had been smoking marijuana and had taken a prescription drug.
In California, the singer remains under investigation for an egg-tossing incident that left his neighbor's house with thousands of dollars in damage. If Bieber is charged in that case, a California judge may look at him more harshly in light of the Florida and Toronto cases, said Stan Goldman, a criminal law professor at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles.
"The fact that you've got three is a heck of a lot worse than one," Goldman said.
Bieber has not addressed the vandalism claim in California, and his attorney Howard Weitzman has said the singer's legal team believes their client is innocent in the Toronto case.