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February 23, 2011

"Judge tells Lindsay Lohan plea deal will mean jail"

The title of this post is the headline of this AP report on the latest development in the theft charges pending against Lindsay Lohan.  Here are the basics:

A judge told Lindsay Lohan on Wednesday he would sentence her to jail if she accepted a plea deal from prosecutors to avoid trial for allegedly stealing a $2,500 necklace from an upscale jewelry store.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Keith Schwartz tersely told the troubled starlet what she could expect if she pleaded guilty or no contest in the felony case. "If you plead in front of me, if this case is resolved in front of me, you are going to jail," Schwartz said. "Period."

But if she rejects the deal, and a judge determines there's enough evidence to order her to stand trial, she could be punished because she was still on probation for a 2007 drunken driving case when the necklace was stolen.  That could mean Lohan -- who has pleaded not guilty -- is sentenced to jail before the theft case is even tried....

Lohan told the judge she understood his comments, and left the courtroom clutching her mother's hand. She and her attorney didn't speak to reporters, but her father, Michael Lohan, told those gathered outside the courthouse that the case is being over-prosecuted. "I don't see Lindsay as a criminal," he said. "This is all a result of her addiction."

The necklace case has become the latest trouble for Lohan, who was sent to jail twice and rehab twice last year for violating her probation in the drunken driving case.  The troubled starlet seems to keep running into trouble -- she was cited for speeding around 9 p.m. Monday in West Hollywood, reportedly driving 59 mph in a 35 mph zone, said sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore.

The judge told Lohan that he was treating her as he would any other defendant, and that he wanted her to get the case resolved.  "I want you to get on with your life," Schwartz said.  Schwartz also said that he thought Lohan should receive psychological counseling as a condition of her probation if it is re-instated. 

As I have said before, though I am disinclined to invest too many blog posts (or brain cells) concerning LiLo's fate and future, I do think her case shine an interesting (and important?) spotlight on state sentencing policies and practices and the challenges posed by a low-level repeat offender who cannot seem to stay out of trouble.  

Though perhaps commentators feel differently, I suspect that relatively few persons really think that a short (or even long) period in jail is likely to significantly help Lohan get her life and behavior straightened out.  And yet, I fully understand Judge Schwartz's inclination to make perfectly clear that a guilty plea on this theft charge is not going to be "rewarded" with an alternative sentence. 

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February 23, 2011 at 02:16 PM | Permalink


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She stole a necklace worth $2500.. Even though she has a substance abuse problem, she still took it....The Judge isnot going to let her slide on this one.....Can't blame him one bit......Hes doing his job....Amazing, with all of that talent, money and people she has to know, that someone can't get her cleaned up, so she can be functional enough to stay out of trouble....Shows a very important point...You are in charge of your self, nobody can really help you, when you go off the reservation...

Posted by: Josh | Feb 23, 2011 4:13:53 PM

Personally I get very tied of celebrities in any form (film, music, or even politics) getting relative slaps on the wrist for anything that might put them in front of the judge.

These same people would demand those who are not famous serve maximum penalties and make society a safer place. They should be subject to those same penalties. Especially in a case like this where she just isn't getting it.

If she does go to jail, don't make it a few week deal with her own personal cell or segregated area. Put her in among the general population. It would be a media circus to be sure, but I also see two possible things happening.

1. The experience might truly cause her to realize she's not in Kansas in anymore and to get her act together.

2. California jails/prisons have a reputation to be some of the most corrupt in the country. Having a media spotlight on them might cause them to clean up their acts as well.

Posted by: Questions_Authority | Feb 23, 2011 5:08:47 PM

i don't know why they wouldn't as you say josh "let her slide" since they have been f..king with her for YEARS over a couple of mistermanor charges..... god knows what the last 2-3 YEARS of court dates to mess with her have cost...

if she does take a deal i hope her lawyers are at least smart enough to demand any plea will NOT INCLUDE any probation to follow...

Posted by: rodsmith | Feb 23, 2011 7:21:57 PM

If this judge would sentence someone in similar circumstances to jail time, then I can't see a problem with his warning her that she faces jail time. By all appearances, that is what's going on. But if he's trying to make an example out of her because she's a celebrity, then I think he's barking up the wrong tree. This is a theft case, not an offense involving reckless or irresponsible behavior where some small subset of people might be persuaded by example to think twice about what they're doing. Those who are inclined to steal won't be dissuaded because they see Ms. Lohan go to prison, and those who aren't inclined to steal won't suddenly think theft is a good idea just because they see Ms. Lohan gets probation.

My own suspicion--unsupported by hard data--is that celebrities like Ms. Lohan actually get treated more harshly by judges, because of the notion that somehow it "sends a message", or to avoid the perception that they're getting favorable treatment. But I doubt very much that the message is going to get through to the people who need to hear it.

Posted by: C.E. | Feb 23, 2011 10:44:31 PM

Or maybe when someone proves through repeated brushes with the law that they cannot conform themselves to the expectations of society it is time that she is parted from society for a period. Shoplifting, new drug charges, the missed appearances (I forget if they were court dates or probation officer meets or drug counseling or something else, I don't see that it matters), eventually all these things need to catch up with a body.

Of course if she rejects a plea that mandates a jail term she could well be looking at a more severe sentence after trial.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Feb 24, 2011 12:36:13 AM

Lindsay Lohan, Exhibit A on why rehab is so much more successful than jail.


Posted by: Bill Otis | Feb 24, 2011 3:08:43 AM

What if jail saves her life? Robert Downey Jr. celebrated graduating from many rehabs with the dealer waiting for him in the parking lot outside. He was almost unconscious in a skid row alley. Mandated rehabs did not help over several years. Only jail for several months helped his brain heal. He smoked crack in the bathroom of the psychiatrist who tried to excuse him with a mood disorder diagnosis. This psychiatrist appeared to not have been experienced enough to understand these illegal drugs cause all known psychiatric symptoms and no diagnosis should be made until off them at least a year. It was only after his stint in prison that he hit it big with blockbuster movies.

The judge should do his job, and not coddle the famous defendant. She may die if he does not act soon. Her biggest threat is to herself, and this is a case where prison would be rehabilitative, down to brain biology. Although I am an utilitarian who believes only incapacitation is an effective measure of the criminal law, I have to remain open to jail as rehabilitation when the facts compel it. I have no objection to the saving of a life by going to prison, whether to escape addictive drug availability or to escape retaliation by a rival gang. Sometimes the payoff is spectacular as with the subsequent career and productivity of Robert Downey Jr.


Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 24, 2011 4:57:28 AM

Every once in a while Supremacy Claus hits the mark. Right on.

C.E. - The California Rules of Court specifically permit the court to consider a sentence to demonstrate to others the consequences of crime. Rule 4.410(a)(4). While I agree that all persons should be treated equally, the rule seems to permit something a little different. Personally, I have only advocated such an approach when the defendant had used the media and publicity to perpetrate the crime.

Posted by: David | Feb 24, 2011 9:49:43 AM

@Bill Otis: I don’t have the data handy, but surely those who say that rehab is more successful than jail are making a statistical argument. They aren’t claiming it works in 100 percent of cases, and obviously Lohan would be one of those in which it didn’t.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Feb 24, 2011 10:27:31 AM

Any other defendant would be sent to jail under these circumstances. In fact, any other defendant would have already been fined, held in contempt of court, and thrown in jail from the conduct that LL exhibited before the theft.

If Judge Schwartz wants to have even a modicum of consistency sentencing, she has to do time. And I applaud him for not taking the coward's way out.

@C.E.--Here's some hard data contrary to your position:
--Charlie Sheen--beats ex-wife, shoots ex-girlfriend, threatens to stab another. Result (on the third crime of violence): probation.
--Andrew Sullivan--caught smoking dope. Result: charges dismissed.
--Lindsay Lohan--repeat DUIs, multiple violations of probation. Result: served 84 minutes of one day sentence, and then probation after not attending alcohol rehab
--Nicole Richie--repeat DUI with multiple drugs in system. Result: probation
--Chris Brown: felony assault and making criminal threats to Rihanna. (remember the photo?) Result: probation

Posted by: Res ipsa | Feb 24, 2011 12:09:53 PM

Marc Shepherd --

I had two points in mind for that comment. One was to remind the rehab-not-prison folks that their argument has limits, and that at some point ideological antagonism to incarceration runs into reality. Lindsay Lohan, among others, illustrates that point.

The second thing was to reiterate that the success of rehab depends principally on the attitude of the miscreant, not on the number of "opportunities" society gives her. A fellow making minimum wage who, say, sincerely regrets using cocaine and sees that it's going to ruin his life if he doesn't stop is an incomparably better bet for rehab than someone like Ms. Lohan. She's a young and beautiful millionaire celebrity with all the "opportunities" one can imagine, but (as you and I both predicted on this site) rehab is never going to work with her. The reason it won't work is that she doesn't give a good God damn and thinks rules are for suckers.

There's not a whole lot more to it than that. Success in rehab, as in so many other things in life, is not about what society thinks or does. It's about what YOU think and do. The numerous commenters on this site who deny or ignore this fact, and portray criminals as mere passive vessels of adverse social forces, could learn something from Ms. Lohan.

The chances that they WILL learn, however, are about the same as the chances she'll stay out of trouble.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Feb 24, 2011 1:24:54 PM

David --

Spot on.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Feb 24, 2011 1:27:21 PM

Res ipsa --

Spot on to you too.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Feb 24, 2011 1:55:25 PM

Res: those cases don't really answer the question. You'd have to compare their cases to others prosecuted in the same jurisdiction for similar offenses. If Chris Brown was in a court where other men who beat their wives get off with a slap on the wrist, that's tragic, but it doesn't suggest that his celebrity status has anything to do with it. But just showing that some celebrity got a sentence that we think is lenient does not prove that they are being treated lenient because of their celebrity status.

Posted by: Anonymous | Feb 24, 2011 2:14:01 PM

Hello guys, I don't have any idea why such people are engaged themselves with such malice. I am sure the case will be justified properly.

Posted by: George Allen | Feb 28, 2011 7:56:06 AM

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