Detained movie stars Jaycee Chan and Ko Chen-tung are unlikely to face long jail terms or serious criminal charges, mainland lawyers say, but the damage to their reputations and their futures in the entertainment industry could be serious.
Beijing police confirmed on Monday that they recovered more than 100 grams of marijuana from the home of a Hong Kong actor surnamed Chan. Mainland media reported that the actor was Jaycee Chan, better known as Jaycee Fong Cho-ming, and that detained with him was Taiwanese star Ko, who is also known as Kai Ko.
Yesterday, Ko made a tearful confession on CCTV that he had used drugs. A separate programme aired on CCTV yesterday evening said Chan had admitted using drugs for eight years. It also reported that Ko had admitted using drugs for the first time when he was at Chan's residence in 2012.
Watch: Jackie Chan's son Jaycee Chan arrested over drug charges
The police put Chan, 32, under criminal detention on suspicion of "providing a shelter for others to abuse drugs". Ko received a relatively less severe 14 days administrative detention.
"Based on the police charge, Chan may likely be detained for six months without financial penalty," said Peng Jian, a lawyer and director of Beijing Huahuan Law Firm.
"Even though Chan is from Hong Kong, he should be held accountable based on mainland law."
Chan's Hollywood superstar father Jackie is believed to have travelled to Beijing to help his son.
Mainland criminal law defines the making, smuggling and dealing of drugs, especially opium, heroin and methamphetamine, as severe offences. Depending on the amount of drugs involved, suspects may face years in prison or even the death sentence as well as huge fines.
"About 100 grams of marijuana is not a large amount. It is below the level of more serious criminal charges," Peng said.
Watch: Detained Taiwanese actor Ko Chen-tung confesses on China state TV
However, both Chan and Ko may face serious damage to their futures in the entertainment business. Taiwanese media reported that Ko could lose millions of dollars if he is found to have breached his film and advertisement contracts.
Talent agency M'Stones, which represents Chan – who is also known as Fang Zuming – confirmed he had been held but said the company lawyer could not reach him. A statement from M'Stones apologised for the impact on society his arrest had had, and said it would work with Fong to return him to the "righteous path".
Angie Chai, owner of Taiwan-based talent agency Star Ritz to which Ko belongs, said in a statement she regretted Ko’s mistake and that the agency apologised.
“I almost collapsed when I heard this,” Chai said. “We are family of Ko’s career, but we have been neglecting his life education through out his career development. We hope and expect him to have self-discipline, but it turned out he made a bad mistake. He has set a very bad example [...] We have full responsibility for Ko.”