"Theoretically, they could proceed without her, but it makes it very difficult for them," Diamond said. Under California law, sexual assault victims cannot be jailed for refusing to testify.
"He got a celebrity deal at the time," Sax said. "It doesn't make sense for him to go to trial."
If the defense strategies fail or if Polanski -- who almost certainly would be denied bail in Los Angeles -- opts for a quick resolution, the case would proceed to sentencing. He faces a maximum of 16 months behind bars, an official with the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said Wednesday.
Prosecutors declined to say whether they would seek to charge Polanski in connection with his flight from the court.
The plea agreement called for the judge to decide punishment based on the arguments of attorneys and a probation officer's report. That report recommended no time behind bars, citing in part Polanski's mother's death in the Holocaust as well as the murder of his pregnant wife by members of the Charles Manson gang.
"It is believed that incalculable emotional damage could result from incarcerating the defendant whose own life has been a seemingly endless series of punishments," a parole officer wrote.
The victim and her family also pushed for a sentence without incarceration. The prosecution asked that "Mr. Polanski be placed in custody," but did not specify a length of time.
The district attorney's office declined to say what they would request at a new sentencing hearing.