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Lindsay Lohan has a mixed day in court

A Los Angeles judge says the actress' alleged theft of a necklace violated her probation, and she is briefly detained before posting bail. But the theft charge is downgraded from a felony to a misdemeanor.

April 23, 2011|By Richard Winton and Catherine Saillant, Los Angeles Times
  • Actress Lindsay Lohan enters a Los Angeles County courthouse for her preliminary hearing on Friday.
Actress Lindsay Lohan enters a Los Angeles County courthouse for her preliminary… (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times )

A stoic Lindsay Lohan was ordered to jail Friday on a probation violation connected to the alleged theft of a necklace, but she also scored a victory as a judge reduced the theft charge from a felony to a misdemeanor.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Stephanie Sautner ruled that Lohan violated her 2007 drunk-driving probation by wearing a gold chain out of a Venice jewelry store in January and failing to return it until she learned that detectives were preparing to serve a search warrant.

Sautner gave her 120 days in jail, plus 480 hours of community service. Lohan was impassive as sheriff's deputies led her out of the Airport Courthouse after an afternoon of testimony.

Defense attorney Shawn Holley immediately sought to post the $75,000 bail and filed an appeal of Sautner's decision.

Lohan was processed at the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood late Friday and was released on bail shortly after 9 p.m., authorities said.

The actress will remain free until her June 3 trial but will be required to begin fulfilling her community service by working 120 hours at the Los Angeles County morgue and 360 hours at the Downtown Women's Shelter on skid row, the judge ruled.

Sautner said the assignments would give Lohan a real-life look at "how truly needy women and women who have fallen on real hard times have to live."

During daylong testimony Holley told the court that Lohan never intended to steal the $2,500 necklace but accidentally wore it out of the store Jan. 22 after trying it on. A grainy videotape of Lohan's visit to the Venice shop shows "a young woman doing a million different things in a jewelry store.... She is scattered," Lohan's attorney argued.

Although the actress kept the necklace until Feb. 1, it was the act of a person who is "not considerate or courteous," Holley said. "But that doesn't make her a thief."

Prosecutor Danette Meyers said that accepting Holley's explanation would be to accept that there is a "different standard on the Westside" of Los Angeles. "This is garden-variety theft," she told Sautner at the preliminary hearing.

In making her ruling that led to the jail time, the judge said a violation of probation had a lower evidentiary standard than the "beyond a reasonable doubt" required at trial.

Lohan scored a significant victory when the judge reduced the theft charge from a felony to a misdemeanor, eliminating the prospect of a prison sentence. Sautner said that it was typical to reduce crimes for non-celebrities and that Lohan was no different.

Meyers, the prosecutor, said the district attorney's office may appeal the reduction, maintaining that Sautner abused her discretion in taking the action. "It was a felony filing because the defendant was on probation.... She has violated on numerous occasions."

It has been a tumultuous 12 months for the former child star, who was jailed for violating her drunk-driving probation, entered rehab at the Betty Ford Center and then, after pledging she was turning over a new leaf, was arrested on suspicion of theft.

The prosecutor said Lohan demonstrated her intent to steal the $2,500 chain at Kamofie & Co. by exhibiting the same behavior during an earlier visit to the store. In the day's newest revelation, a store employee testified that four days before the alleged necklace theft, Lohan was in the shop and asked to try on a pair of earrings.

She removed one of them but kept the other one in her ear until the clerk reminded her that she was still wearing it, the clerk testified. The shop's owner testified Friday that 10 minutes after she closed her store Jan. 22, she noticed that Lohan had left with the pricey necklace.

Meyers also told the judge that Lohan failed to return the necklace until she saw on the Internet that she was accused of theft.

Last year, Lohan spent three months at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage under orders from Superior Court Judge Elden S. Fox in Beverly Hills, who spared the actress jail time in October after Lohan tested positive for drugs while on probation in the DUI case.

An employee at Betty Ford alleged that she was assaulted by the actress during Lohan's time there. Riverside County prosecutors eventually declined to file the case.

Last summer Lohan was sentenced to 90 days in prison and 90 days in an in-patient rehabilitation facility by another Beverly Hills judge for violating the terms of her probation.

richard.winton@latimes.com

catherine.saillant@latimes.com

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