The prison-bound heiress's younger sister speaks out in her defense

By Courtney Rubin
Updated June 01, 2007 08:15 AM

With the June 5 deadline for Paris Hilton to turn herself in to jail looming, her younger sister Nicky is speaking out.

“I think she should definitely be punished, but going to jail for a traffic violation is pretty absurd,” Hilton, 23, told PEOPLE Thursday at the BlackBerry Curve launch party in Los Angeles, which she attended with Paris.

Though a source told PEOPLE Paris is dreading jail time, the 26-year-old heiress wasn’t showing it. Wearing a flirty pink dress, Paris was giddy and giggly as she chatted with her sister and a female pal. (She declined to speak to PEOPLE, saying: “I’m not doing interviews.”)

A longtime Paris friend says the laughter is her way of coping. “She’s the eternal optimist,” the pal – who spoke with Paris at the party – told PEOPLE. “She’s been through so much, but that’s always her disposition.

Paris has until June 5 to turn herself in to the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood, Calif., where she will serve at least 23 days for violating probation by driving with a suspended license.

After serving time, Hilton can look forward to a party – in St Tropez. She’s the face of a canned sparkling wine called Rich Prosecco and, according to the company, will appear at their summer party. When’s the party? Depends on when she gets out.

“We have to wait and see what happens on June 5,” Gunther Aloys, the Austria-based head of Rich Prosecco, tells PEOPLE. “Her family is very anxious about what will happen. When it [the jail sentence] is over, she was planning to go on vacation at the end of June. We expect to have a party day then with her in St. Tropez.”

The heiress – who came to Zurich in April for the brand – will also have a photo shoot on the Matterhorn in July or August, plus a market launch in England this summer. Her three-to-five year contract with the brand also includes a share of the business, though Aloys wouldn’t specify how much.