T.I.'s arrest for drugpossession on Wednesday could get the hip-hop icon back in jail, says StevenKnowles, a lawyer not representing the "Got Your Back" rapper.
[Photo: Mug shot: TI and his wife]
The trouble comes at a pivotal moment in T.I.'s career andpersonal life. His film Takers, whichhe acted in as well as co-executive produced, opened in theaters at No. 1 lastweekend. His album, ironically called KingUncaged, is scheduled for a September 28 release. He just married Cottle inJuly, and was released from a halfway house in March.
This could put his life on hold.
Lawyer Steven Knowles suspects that, if convicted, T.I.could face a multiple-year jail sentence. "This is big-time," Knowles toldYahoo! Music. "I really don't envy his defense lawyer."
Prior to serving three months in the halfway house, T.I.spent sevenmonths in a federal prison in Arkansasfor illegal firearms possession and possessing a gun as a convicted felon.
The new allegations will not be taken lightly, said Knowles,a family attorney who has represented Britney Spears and Nicole Kidman, amongothers. "[T.I.'s] celebrity is not likely going to get him off of this," he said."This is now a repeated offense. That's when even the celebrity get-out-of-jailcard is not going to work."
Knowles believes T.I.'s celebrity will probably ensure amore stringent ruling. "In fact, for themto take it light on him now would look like over-favoritism because he's acelebrity, and I think, if anything, his celebrity may actually backfire."
Knowles believes that Cottle, co-star of BET's Tiny & Toya and a member of the '90sR&B group Xscape, could avoid jail time because of their children. "That isa big factor when it comes to sentencing," he said. "I can tell you from my experienceas a family lawyer that celebrity or not, courts loathe to jail moms,particularly if there's not going to be a dad at home to care for the kids aswell. This would mean kids would have no parents."
One important factor in determining a potential sentencewill be the quantity of drugs in possession. "If [the] quantity is large enoughto be selling or even sharing with third parties, that could make a bigdifference," Knowles said.
Before the lead-up to his 2009 jail term, T.I. starredin an MTV reality series, Road ToRedemption: 45 Days To Go, which documented him speaking to kids about hisregrettable decisions.Yahoo! Music, T.I. said it was too early to tell whether hiscourse was helpful for the attendants because the real challenge of disciplinearises after release.
"It's easy to be on the straight and narrow when you in thejoint because it ain't no temptation," he said. "You don't really got too muchroom to roam. Now, once you leave up out of them gates, walk back out there inthat free world, breathe that air, your mentality then -- that's what counts."
In July, he told AP he was more focused on positivity."Right now, it's all about moving forward, and just acknowledging the blessingsthat are here today. ... Just moving past the regrets of yesterday - the thingsthat could've been done better," he said.
Unfortunately, for now, T.I.'s immediate future looks grim.
In the interview below, T.I. discusses the self-enrichment course he taught in jail, performing for Axe Music's One Night Only, his character in Takers, and his daughter's hip-hop group OMG Girlz.
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- Tameka Cottle