Lindsay Lohan to stand trial on jewelry theft

Fri Apr 22, 2011 5:58pm EDT
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Lindsay Lohan was ordered to stand trial in June for theft but a judge on Friday reduced the charge to a simple misdemeanor, sharply reducing the chances of the actress getting a lengthy jail sentence if convicted.

Los Angeles Superior Court judge Stephanie Sautner declined to dismiss the case after a preliminary hearing, and set a June 3 trial date.

"I am going to give her an opportunity. I'm going to reduce this a misdemeanor," Sautner said.

Lohan, 24, has pleaded not guilty to walking out of a Los Angeles jewelry store in January without paying for a $2,500 gold necklace. She was originally charged with a more serious count of felony grand theft and had faced a prison term of up to three years if convicted.

Lohan's attorney on Friday challenged the true value of the necklace, and police officers testified that aides of the actress had called them to return the item.

"There is a lot of hoopla surrounding Ms. Lohan, but at the end of the day relatively speaking, this is not particularly serious as grand thefts go," said Lohan's lawyer Shawn Chapman Holley. "This is a necklace that was purchased for $850 that was returned 10 days later."

Judge Sautner said however that the evidence she had heard in Friday's hearing suggested that Lohan meant to steal the necklace.

"I see the intent here and I see the level of brazenness with 'let me see what I can get away with,'" Sautner said.   Continued...