Lohan rejects judge's plea offer in theft case

AP News
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Posted: Mar 23, 2011 10:34 PM
Lohan rejects judge's plea offer in theft case

Lindsay Lohan rejected a judge's offer to end a felony grand theft case early and her attorney said Wednesday it is because the actress has a strong defense and is confident she can win an acquittal.

"Ms. Lohan has maintained her innocence from the moment this case was filed and she has never wavered," attorney Shawn Holley wrote in a statement released hours after the actress informed a judge she would not accept his plea offer.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Keith Schwartz never publicly detailed the terms of his offer to Lohan, but said if she pleaded no contest or guilty to taking a $2,500 necklace, he would sentence her to jail. Prosecutors are also seeking jail time for the "Mean Girls" star, who was on probation for a 2007 drunken driving case when a store in Venice told police that Lohan had taken a necklace without permission in January.

"Though many advised her to follow the safe route by taking 'the deal,' the truth is, Ms. Lohan is innocent; she has a strong defense; and we are confident that a jury will listen to the evidence fairly and acquit her," Holley wrote.

Wednesday was the deadline for Lohan to notify Schwartz of her intentions and she will now be required to appear in court on April 22 for a preliminary hearing.

Prosecutors have charged Lohan after a jewelry store accused her of taking the necklace without permission in January.

The preliminary hearing will be conducted by a new judge _ the fourth one Lohan has faced in the past year _ who will determine whether there is enough evidence for Lohan to stand trial on the felony grand theft charge.

If the judge rules Lohan should stand trial, the actress could immediately be sentenced for a probation violation from the DUI case and sent to jail for the fourth time.

The actress, 24, has pleaded not guilty to the charge and repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

Preliminary hearings have a lower burden of proof than jury trials, and generally end with judge's ordering defendants to stand trial. While Holley has the opportunity to present witnesses during the hearing, most defense attorneys opt not to divulge their strategy but rather assess the strength of the evidence.