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Lindsay Lohan plans to sit out her plea deal drama

By Alan Duke, CNN
Lindsay Lohan appears in court in March on a count of felony grand theft. She is not expected to appear in court Wednesday.
Lindsay Lohan appears in court in March on a count of felony grand theft. She is not expected to appear in court Wednesday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Lindsay Lohan will not attend Wednesday's hearing to save the court money, officials say
  • Lohan's lawyer will enter her no contest plea for her, officials say
  • A plea deal will mean a short jail sentence or home confinement, officials say

Los Angeles (CNN) -- Lindsay Lohan will bypass the courthouse Wednesday on her way to begin serving her sentence on a necklace theft charge, officials say.

Lohan's lawyer is expected to enter a no contest plea Wednesday on behalf of the actress, who would later report to a sheriff's station for booking, according to a spokesman for the prosecutor and the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department.

Lohan will not attend Wednesday's hearing as a gesture to save the cash-strapped court from paying for extra deputies needed to handle the media mob scene that usually surrounds her courthouse arrivals, officials said. Better known lately for courthouse arrivals than red carpet premieres, Lohan has appeared before a judge 10 times in the past year.

Under a plea deal, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephanie Sautner would sentence Lohan to 120 days in jail and 480 hours of community service, the same punishment she imposed last month for a probation violation triggered by the theft charge, Los Angeles City Attorney spokesman John Franklin said.

Since both sentences would run concurrently, Lohan's no contest plea -- the equivalent to a guilty plea -- would effectively mean no more time than she was already facing from the probation violation, Franklin said.

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Lohan's most likely fate, though, is no time in a jail cell, Los Angeles County Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said. Probation officials will decide whether she is eligible to serve her sentence with home confinement, and "all indications" suggest that she is, Whitmore said.

If that is the case, she could spend only a short time in custody before going to a private company to be fitted with an electronic bracelet that would let her probation officer know if she leaves her home, he said.

If Lohan does not get home confinement, her time in jail would likely be about 14 days, he said. The 120-day sentence is reduced to about 71 days when the state formula for "good time" is applied off the top, Whitmore said. The sheriff's guidelines to reduce jail overcrowding could take off another 56 days, leaving just two weeks to serve, he said.

But Whitmore pointed out that Sautner could intervene and order the sheriff to keep Lohan in jail for a longer part of the sentence.

Getting the threat of jail time behind her could be important for Lohan's career, considering she's been cast in the "Gotti" movie, which is set for production in October.

When Lohan rejected a plea deal in March and decided to take the theft charge to trial, it was a felony case. Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Danette Meyers was insisting she go to jail at least for several months.

But Sautner reduced it to a misdemeanor charge, which took it out of Meyers' jurisdiction. She handed the case off to the Los Angeles city attorney last week.

Sautner allowed Lohan to remain free on bond while she appealed the 120-day probation violation sentence.

The actress has already reported to the Los Angeles Downtown Women's Center, where she must serve 360 hours of community service. Lohan must also work 120 hours at the county morgue, the judge ordered.

Lohan was just weeks away from the end of her supervised probation stemming from two drunken driving convictions in 2007 when she was charged with felony grand theft. She was accused of walking out of a Venice jewelry store in January with a diamond-and-gold necklace around her neck that had not been purchased.

The alleged theft happened just three weeks after the actress completed three months of drug rehab. She checked into the Betty Ford Clinic only after another judge ordered her to jail for a month after finding she violated probation with a failed drug test.

At that time, Meyers asked the judge to send the actress to jail for 180 days. "I'm not quite sure we've gotten her attention yet," Meyers said at an October hearing.

Meyers argued that Lohan has a pattern of checking into rehab "every time she has a violation and jail is leering over her head."

But Meyers is now out of Lohan's legal life.

Other than a few hours waiting in jail for bonds to be posted, Lohan has served just 13 days behind bars. That happened in August, when the sheriff let her out early from a 90-day probation-violation sentence.

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