Lindsay Lohan found herself in the supporting cast Wednesday as a judge took center stage and vowed to send the actress to jail if she pleads no contest or guilty to resolve charges that she shoplifted a necklace from a Venice jewelry store.
The strong words by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Keith Schwartz force Lohan to choose between a few months in county jail or a very public trial that could result in prison time.
“If you plead in front of me — if this case is resolved in front of me — you are going to go to jail. Period,” Schwartz told Lohan, who has been jailed three times in other incidents. “It may be an issue as to the amount of time.... I don’t want you under any apprehension. You will be going to jail.”
Lohan is charged with felony grand theft for allegedly stealing a $2,500 necklace from a Venice jewelry store on Jan. 22. If convicted, she faces up to three years in state prison. She could also be sent to jail if she is found to have violated her probation for a 2007 drunk driving conviction.
Schwartz’s warning came as prosecutors offered Lohan a plea deal to resolve the case. The terms were not disclosed, but a source told The Times she would have to serve six months in jail.
“I’ve got the impression you are not going to accept the D.A.'s offer,” Schwartz told Lohan after a 30-minute meeting in his chambers with Deputy Dist. Atty. Danette Meyers and Lohan’s attorney, Shawn Holley. “One of the things about me is I treat everyone the same. I don’t care if you’re Lindsay Lohan versus John Doe or Jane Doe.”
Lohan arrived in the courtroom Wednesday in a more subdued outfit than the form-fitting, short white dress she donned at her arraignment. She wore a dark blouse, ivory pants and 5-inch platform heels and sat attentively as her father, mother and brother watched. When asked if she understood, she told the judge, “Yes, your honor.”
Lohan previously pleaded not guilty and has adamantly denied stealing the necklace.
She has until a March 10 court hearing to decide on the plea deal. If she rejects it, a preliminary hearing will be set in front of another judge to determine if enough evidence exists for the actress to face a trial. That judge would also decide whether the alleged theft was a violation of Lohan’s probation — something that could send her back to jail before she is tried.
If Schwartz oversees the plea agreement, he said he would want Lohan to seek treatment from a psychologist and get a “real sponsor” independent of her family for a 12-step program. “I don’t want you to be a repeat offender in the system,” Schwartz told Lohan. “I want you to be a productive citizen and reach the potential that you have.”
Prosecutors in Riverside County are also reviewing allegations that she battered a Betty Ford Center technician last December. Lohan has denied the allegation.