A look at Amy Winehouse's troubles with the law

Amy Winehouse was a massive hit in the U.K. long before anyone had heard of her in the U.S. Her first album came out there in 2003 and skyrocketed to No. 3 on the British Billboards. She was only 20 years old at the time, and she seemed destined for artistic greatness. Eventually, however, Winehouse's musical accomplishments became overshadowed by her personal struggles with drug addiction, alcoholism, and her run-ins with the law, and she became better known for her tabloid incidents than for her music.

Between her addictions and her legal troubles, Winehouse often had to cancel shows until she could recover herself. Her husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, although not as famous as his wife, was equally volatile, and between the two of them, they accumulated quite a number of arrests, jail time, police station visits, and courtroom appearances.

Tragically, Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning in 2011 at the age of 27. Even today, people are shocked at how much trouble Winehouse managed to find herself in when she was alive — and how so much artistic promise was wasted. 

Drug Possession

It was no secret that Amy Winehouse struggled with drug addiction, and it's no surprise that many of her arrests were connected to drug possession. Winehouse was somewhat open about her use of marijuana, but it would also appear that (even by her own in-laws' claims, reports ABC News) that she was an avid user of crack cocaine and heroin. In 2008, as noted by Reuters, Winehouse was arrested for crack cocaine use — she turned herself over to the police, arriving at an East London station where she appeared to be smoking said substance. Media accounts reported that Winehouse showed up at the station looking disheveled and harrowed.

The police report notes the following: "At 1 p.m. (1200 GMT) on Wednesday, a 24-year-old woman attended a London police station by arrangement. She was arrested in connection with alleged possession of a controlled drug." Winehouse was questioned for nine hours and was held overnight, but without being charged.

Another time, according to The Guardian, when visiting Norway in 2007, Winehouse and her husband were arrested after being caught with cannabis. By many standards, marijuana might not be the worst drug to have on hand, but cannabis was still illegal at the time (Norway has since decriminalized marijuana use, says Trip Savvy). Winehouse and Fielder-Civil were kept overnight, paid a fine, and were released. Norwegian police dropped the matter after that.

Assault Charges

Winehouse was noted for having a volatile temper and known to lash out violently, likely due to her addiction to drugs and alcohol. As Reuters reports, Winehouse was arrested in 2008 for assaulting two men on a night out, allegedly headbutting one and punching the other in the face. According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, Winehouse misunderstood one of the men's attempts to hail her a cab (they were both patrons at the same bar) and thought he was trying to molest her. 

As The Guardian notes, it really didn't take much to set Winehouse off. When performing at a charity ball in London, a dancer asked Winehouse for a photo. Winehouse responded by punching her in the eye, and was arrested for it. Another time, as noted by Rolling Stone, Winehouse was at a performance of Cinderella at the Milton Keynes Theatre in London. She apparently became extremely disruptive during the show, loudly shouting at the actors on stage. The theater manager approached Winehouse and asked if she could move seats to prevent further disturbance. Winehouse didn't take the request kindly and reacted by punching the manager, kicking, and pulling his hair. That also led to another arrest and assault charge. For this incident, Winehouse pleaded guilty but was spared jail time since, despite multiple run-ins with the law, she hadn't actually been convicted of anything. Winehouse was given a conditional two-year discharge and ordered to compensate the theater manager she assaulted.

Her Husband Didn't Help Matters, Either

Winehouse met her husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, in her Camden neighborhood's bar scene where, fresh off her early success, she bought her first apartment. Many credit Fieder-Civil with introducing Winehouse to hard drugs, a theory that Winehouse's first manager, Nick Gdwyn, shared with The Times: "Amy changed overnight after she met Blake. She just sounded completely different. Her personality became more distant. And it seemed to me like that was down to the drugs. When I met her, she smoked weed, but she thought the people who took class-A drugs were stupid. She used to laugh at them."

The two had an extremely volatile relationship, and Fielder-Civil had his own share of legal problems, in which Winehouse played a part. After being involved in a bar fight that caused great injury to one other person, Fielder-Civil was further charged with perverting the course of justice — he was caught trying to bribe the injured individual into recanting his statement and dropping the charges, reports The Guardian. Even Winehouse was arrested in connection to her husband's witness-tampering charges, according to People. She was questioned by police but released.

According to The Guardian, after Winehouse's death in 2011, Fielder-Civil expressed his regret over his role in Winehouse's addiction problems: "I regret it, not just because of the damage it's caused Amy and the loss of life, but the damage to her family but also to my family and also to me."