Lindsay Lohan was arraigned Wednesday (February 9) on a felony charge related to her recent jewelry theft case, and the presiding judge made it clear that he wants the troubled starlet to stay straight.
Lohan arrived in court in a clingy white minidress, big black shades and hair in a blond ponytail with a necklace tucked into her collar. In the courtroom, the actress sat quietly next to her lawyer, Shawn Chapman Holley, who said Lohan's probation officer maintained she has been "a good probationer." Ultimately, the judge decided to revoke her probation in her previous misdemeanor case and set bail at $20,000. At the close of the minutes-long arraignment, Judge Keith Schwartz addressed Lohan directly and advised her that her current circumstance is more serious than her previous legal scrapes.
"You're in a different situation now that a felony has been filed against you," Schwartz said, later adding that, "If you violate the law, I will remand you and set no bail." The judge explained that Lohan wouldn't be able to dodge jail time and post bail as she did last year after she admittedly failed a court-mandated drug test, saying, "A felony is a different situation and you're not entitled to bail." The judge also firmly told the starlet, "You need to follow the laws just like everybody else," and added, "Please, don't push your luck. I'm telling you, things will be different."
Lohan allegedly lifted a $2,500 necklace from a Venice, California, jewelry store on January 22. The owner reported the theft to the Los Angeles Police Department, which later investigated the accusation and presented evidence to the District Attorney's office last week. The actress has been officially charged with one count of felony grand theft and faces up to three years in prison.
The case is unusual for a number of reasons, according to criminal defense lawyer Jacob Glucksman, who used to be a deputy district attorney in the Los Angeles County Prosecutors office. Glucksman has no first-hand knowledge of the facts in the case and is not involved in its litigation, but is representing one of the witnesses in the matter. "It does seem odd to me," Glucksman told MTV News on Wednesday afternoon a short time before Lohan's arraignment. "Most theft cases are: You go into a store and hide something in your bag and leave or take it from a person. Something like this is fairly rare and begs the questions: Why didn't the store just go to Lindsay's people and not the cops?"
Glucksman said the case will come down to the issue of intent, which could be hard for the prosecutor's office to prove. One of the keys to the case will be prior acts, including similar incidents in the past in which Lohan has been accused (but never criminally charged) with keeping or taking something that didn't belong to her.
"There's an evidence code in California [section 1101 (b)] that relates to character evidence," he said. "It says that character evidence cannot be used to prove a person's propensity to commit a crime. That means they can't say that 'Lindsay Lohan is the type of person who would commit this crime because she's done XYZ in the past.' "
However, Glucksman added, you can use prior acts to show "motive, intent, opportunity, knowledge or modus operandi," in which case prosecutors could use the character evidence to show that she had intent to steal this time.
"You would say, 'In the past, someone has given her a coat, a watch, trinkets ... and they haven't asked for it back,' and because she had the knowledge and intent to keep it, that's what she did this time too." Lohan does not have to have been charged with crimes in the prior acts in order for them to be brought up in court, but a judge could seek to limit such evidence if he or she thought it would confuse or mislead jurors and possibly lead them to convict Lohan for a past crime rather than the one that led to her charging.
The necklace-nicking incident is the latest case in Lohan's extensive litany of legal run-ins. The starlet was recently released from rehab after failing a court-ordered drug test and spending 2010 in and out of courtrooms and in prison for continually failing to comply with the conditions of her probation stemming from a 2007 DUI bust.