Lindsay Lohan could end necklace-theft case today
The legal drama over Lindsay Lohan and the necklace she is accused of stealing from a Venice jewelry store could come to an end on Wednesday.
Lohan's lawyer is expected to enter a no-contest plea on her behalf to a misdemeanor theft charge. It's unclear whether Lohan will be in court, which is not required for such a plea.
It's also unclear whether the plea would mean any jail time for the actress.
If the plea is entered, probation officers will prepare a sentencing report recommending that Lohan either serve time in a county jail or serve the sentence at home with electric monitoring at her own expense.
"The judge has the power to order no electronic monitoring, but the reality is she is going to serve very little jail time –- something like 14 days or perhaps even electronic monitoring," said Dmitry Gorin, a defense attorney and former prosecutor. "In this case, she is going to serve lot less time because it is a misdemeanor, not a felony."
The actress scored a win last month when Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Stephanie Sautner reduced the felony grand theft charge in the case to a misdemeanor. L.A. County Deputy Dist. Atty. Danette Meyers had sought jail time for Lohan, but she handed the case over to the L.A. city attorney's office last week.
Gorin called Sautner's decision Lohan's "biggest victory." He added, "Misdemeanors are treated as far less serious in the jail system."
Sautner has already sentenced Lohan to 120 days in jail for violating her 2007 drunk-driving probation by allegedly taking the necklace. That sentence was appealed by the actress.
Sources familiar with the case said any sentence from the misdemeanor conviction would probably run concurrently with the probation sentence. Sautner has ordered Lohan to serve 480 hours of community service at the Downtown Women's Center as well as janitorial duties at the L.A. County coroner's department.
Steve Whitmore, a Sheriff's Department spokesman, said a 120-day sentence would probably be reduced to about 71 days for good behavior. Given jail overcrowding, actual time served would be closer to 14 days. Female inmates currently held for nonviolent offenses typically serve about 20% of their sentences, he said.
Ultimately, however, Sautner would have the final say and could order the actress to serve a certain number of real days in jail, Whitmore said.
The theft trial is scheduled to begin June 3.
-- Richard Winton
Photo: Lindsay Lohan appears at the Beverly Hills Municipal Courthouse on July 20. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times