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Lindsay Lohan's necklace theft case returns to court

By Alan Duke, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Lohan is charged with stealing a necklace from a jewelry store
  • The actress rejected a plea deal last month
  • A judge will decide if the case should go to trial
  • She could also be sent to jail for a probation violation

Los Angeles (CNN) -- Lindsay Lohan returns to court Friday morning for a preliminary hearing that will decide if her necklace theft case will go to trial.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephanie Sautner is also scheduled to consider if Lohan violated her probation for a 2007 drunk driving conviction by being charged with the felony.

The actress is accused of walking out of Kamofie and Company in Venice, California, with a $2,500 necklace around her neck on January 22.

Lohan decided last month to reject a plea deal and instead fight the felony grand theft charge.

"She has a strong defense and we are confident that a jury will listen to the evidence fairly and acquit her," defense lawyer Shawn Holley said on March 24 when she confirmed her client rejected a plea deal.

"Ms. Lohan has maintained her innocence from the moment this case was filed and she has never wavered," Holley said. "Though many advised her to follow the safe route by taking 'the deal,' the truth is, Ms. Lohan is innocent."

Friday will be Lohan's first appearance before Sautner, the fourth judge in the past year to have to decide if the actress should go to jail.

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When Judge Keith Schwartz handed the case off to Sautner, he warned Lohan that if it was left to him he would send her to jail.

Even if Sautner rules there is not enough evidence to hold a trial on the necklace theft charge, she could still find that Lohan violated her probation and order her to jail.

The two decisions have different standards for proof and evidence.

Sautner could also decide to delay hearing both issues, as Lohan's lawyer has requested.

The well-publicized case took a twist last month when it was revealed that a representative of the jewelry store that accused Lohan of theft talked to a book agent about a possible book deal.

This came after the jewelry store sold the rights to the security video of Lohan in the store to a media outlet.

The penalty for a felony grand theft conviction ranges from 16 months to three years in a California state prison. The exact term would be based on the value of the property stolen and the criminal record of the defendant.

Shoplifting offenses are charged as petty theft if the property taken is valued at less than $950. The store owner claims the "one of a kind" necklace is worth $2,500, police said.

Lohan has been in court nine times in the past 11 months, mostly for hearings related to probation violations for her 2007 drunk driving case.

She did a short stint in jail last year, but also checked into substance abuse rehab twice under court order.