(CNN) -- Chris Brown must return to California the same way he got to Washington, D.C. -- in chains on the grueling "Con Air" inmate transport system.
A Los Angeles judge refused a request to free the singer from custody on Wednesday so he could make his own way back from Washington.
Brown, 24, was taken to Washington by U.S. marshals this month for trial on an assault charge, but that has been put on hold until the appeal of his bodyguard's conviction is completed.
Brown has been on probation since 2009 when he pleaded guilty to a felony assault charge in the beating of his then-girlfriend Rihanna Fenty.
He and bodyguard Christopher Hollosy were arrested on assault charges in Washington for allegedly beating a man who tried to take a photo of Brown last December.
The arrest led to a revocation of Brown's probation, but he was allowed to enter a rehab program instead of going to jail. He was ordered to jail last month when he was kicked out of the rehab program for rules violations.
Brown is now "stuck between a rock and a hard spot," attorney Robert Kalunian told Judge Victor Greenberg during a brief hearing in Los Angeles on Wednesday. He has been locked up for 39 days and still has not had a probation revocation hearing, Kalunian said.
Assistant District Attorney Mary Murray said she "strenuously" opposed releasing Brown now, arguing the only change since Brown was jailed in March is that his case has "gotten worse." The Washington judge who found his bodyguard guilty in the assault case also concluded that Brown was "the initial aggressor" in the incident, Murray said.
A hearing was set for May 1 in Los Angeles to set a date for another hearing that could determine if Brown's Washington case warranted a probation revocation. It could be several months before his trial in Washington is held.
"I think it's a little over the top to have him in custody on this misdemeanor when everybody saw the bodyguard's trial and which was nothing more than a bloody nose," Brown lawyer Mark Geragos told reporters in Washington earlier Wednesday. "And you have got the bodyguard who was convicted and who readily admitted he was the one who did the punching. So all of this is much ado about nothing."
The delay in Brown's Washington trial came after prosecutors refused to grant immunity to Hollosy so he could testify without jeopardizing his own case. On Monday, Hollosy was found guilty of assaulting a man on a Washington sidewalk before Brown's trial was to begin in the case.
The prosecutors cited Hollosy's refusal to talk to them about his testimony as a major reason for the decision not to grant immunity. Their motion also said they suspected he might lie in his testimony to help Brown.
"The cynic in me would say apparently it is not a search for the truth because if they wanted the truth they would give Hollosy immunity and allow him to testify," Geragos said Wednesday outside court.
CNN's Paul Courson and Sunny Hostin contributed to this report.