Judge delays jail sentence in Lohan theft case

Thu Mar 10, 2011 2:39pm EST
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A judge on Thursday gave troubled actress Lindsay Lohan two more weeks to plead guilty to a charge she stole a $2,500 necklace in January, delaying any decision to return the Hollywood starlet to jail.

Lohan, 24, pleaded not guilty to theft of the necklace in early February, and a California judge gave her until Thursday to reach a deal in which she would plead guilty or no contest to the charge, which is the equivalent of guilty. But attorneys failed to strike a bargain, leading to Thursday's ruling.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Keith Schwartz set a court date of March 25 to give Lohan's attorney and prosecutors more time. If they still cannot reach a deal, a preliminary hearing will start on April 22 in front of a different judge.

Schwartz previously warned Lohan that if she pleaded guilty or no contest, she would face jail time, and on Thursday, he again cautioned her.

"The only reason you will appear in front of me again ... is to plead guilty or no contest to the charge and accept the parameters of the court's offer," the judge said.

If she does not reach a plea, the case continues to the April hearing where the new judge will decide if enough evidence exists to bring the "Mean Girls" actress to trial.

The new judge also will decide if Lohan's alleged theft violated terms of her probation on a 2007 drunk driving and drug conviction, which by itself could mean Lohan's return to jail for a fourth time since her initial conviction.

Lohan entered the courthouse in a tan sweater dress and black leggings, a contrast to more recent outfits that came under scrutiny for being possibly too revealing.   Continued...