This is not a matter of special treatment, nobody facing these charges in this particular courthouse, or any courthouse in LA, would be sentenced to state prison on these facts.
Los Angeles, CA (Vocus/PRWEB) February 21, 2011
According to the Los Angeles Times blog, Lindsay Lohan’s next court date is February 23, 2011 in Department 144 of the Los Angeles Superior Court, Airport Courthouse. She is facing Grand Theft charges for allegedly shoplifting a necklace that prosecutors allege is worth $2,500.00.
The next court date is a hearing known as an “Early Disposition Program” hearing. Criminal defense attorney, Los Angeles, Jerod Gunsberg explains the two things that happen in this hearing, “First, the prosecution and defense will attempt to work out a settlement of the case. Second, the probation department will submit a report to attorneys on both sides and to the court with their recommended outcome.” Gunsberg asserts whatever the probation department recommends, the court will almost always accept an agreement between the prosecutor and the theft defense lawyer.
The Legal Issues
Under California law, if someone is charged with shoplifting (or “petty theft”), whether it is charged as a felony or misdemeanor depends on a couple of different factors.
The first issue is the value of the item that is alleged stolen. Under California law, Grand Theft charges can be filed if the value of the stolen property is over $950. Grand theft can be filed as either a felony or a misdemeanor.
According to CBS News, if the value is under $950, the prosecutor will file a misdemeanor petty theft charge, unless the defendant has been previously charged with three theft related offenses for which they have served time in jail or state prison, in which case the prosecutor can file a felony charge known as “petty theft with a prior.”
In Lindsay Lohan’s case, she has never been convicted of a theft related offense or any other felony, so the felony/misdemeanor issue is decided by the value of the necklace.
Looking at the history of the legal history at ABC News, the second issue is Lohan’s DUI probation violation. Los Angeles attorney, Gunsberg comments, “If Lindsay is convicted of a theft charge, this will be an automatic violation of her probation on her DUI case. A judge can then sentence Lindsay to up to one year in jail for violating her probation.”
What May Happen
Gunsberg alleges that it is likely that the case will be resolved on the February 23 court date. There are few possible scenarios of what could happen on the next court date.
First Scenario: If Lohan’s attorney can convince the prosecutor to reduce he charge to a misdemeanor, then Lindsay may accept a misdemeanor petty theft charge and admit a violation of her DUI probation. The DA may want some jail time – either on the theft offense or on the probation violation. Ideally, Lindsay’s attorney will be able to work out an option for community service and fines instead of jail.
Second Scenario: Lohan pleads no contest to a felony and then “earns a misdemeanor” after completing community service or jail time and whatever other terms are put on her. Los Angeles theft defense lawyer, Gunsberg, comments, “If a client was going to plead no contest to a felony grand theft in what is essentially a shoplifting charge, I would push for a client to receive community service instead of jail. Especially because, Lindsay’s criminal record is not all that serious.”
Lindsay’s attorney is an experienced and skilled Los Angeles criminal defense attorney. Gunsberg says, “If she reaches a settlement, I have no doubt it will be the best possible outcome under the circumstances.”
Third Scenario: Dismiss the theft charges and ask for a probation violation with jail time. This is a compromise option between scenarios one and two.
Fourth: Lindsay could enter an “open plea” to the court. This means that if the defense and prosecution cannot agree on a sentence, the defense can plead guilty to the grand theft charge and allow the judge to determine the sentence. However, Gunsberg suggests that the prosecutor and defense attorney should be able to work it out.
Fifth scenario is that no deal is reached and no open plea is entered. The case would then proceed to the next phase as a preliminary hearing. The case would go to a different courtroom at a later date and the prosecution would present evidence to the court that there is reasonable cause to believe that a grand theft was committed and that Lindsay Lohan committed the theft.
“My prediction is it will be some combination of the first two scenarios,” asserts Gunsberg.
What Will Not Happen
As seen at TMZ and other media outlets, there has been media controversy about how Lindsay faces up to a year in jail on the probation violation for her DUI and up to three years in prison for the theft. Defense lawyer, Los Angeles, Gunsberg comments, “While this is technically true, Lindsay Lohan will not go to state prison on this case, period. This is not a matter of special treatment, nobody facing these charges in this particular courthouse, or any courthouse in LA, would be sentenced to state prison on these facts. Sure, she may do some time in county jail, but even if she went to trial and lost, it would be hard to imagine a judge sending her to prison. “
Lindsay is Being Treated Like Everyone else
Gunsberg maintains that Lindsay Lohan is not receiving special treatment in any of her cases. “Her attorney has done an excellent job in a difficult situation, but the consequences Lindsay has faced so far in her DUI case in the Beverly Hills courthouse are consistent with what anyone in her situation would face. I don’t expect the outcome of this theft case at the Airport Courthouse to be any different. “
For more information on Los Angeles criminal defense, attorney Jerod Gunsberg, invites you to visit his website at http://www.gunsberglaw.com or contact his office at 323-633-3423, Law Offices of Jerod Gunsberg - Los Angeles, 333 S. Grand Avenue, 25th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90071.
About Jerod Gunsberg:
Jerod Gunsberg is admitted to practice in all California State Courts and the United States District Court for the Central District of California. Mr. Gunsberg regularly handles misdemeanors as well as felony cases. He is a member of numerous professional organizations including National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, Los Angeles Criminal Courts Bar Association.