Lindsay Lohan's punishment on a necklace theft charge could mean as few as 14 days behind bars, or a little more time in home confinement, according to guidelines followed by the Los Angeles sheriff.
Getting the threat of jail time behind her could be important for Lohan's acting career, considering she's been cast in the "Gotti" movie set for production in October.
A new prosecutor took over the case Wednesday, opening the door for new negotiations on a plea deal to avoid a trial set for next month. The next court date is next Wednesday, May 11.
When Lohan rejected a plea deal last 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 Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephanie Sautner sentenced Lohan to 120 days in jail last month after finding she violated her drunk driving probation by being charged with the theft, even before a trial on the theft charge.
Lohan was also ordered to perform 480 hours of community service, which she is expected to start this month.
But Sautner also reduced it to a misdemeanor charge, which took it out of Meyers' jurisdiction. She handed the case off to the Los Angeles city attorney Wednesday afternoon.
"We're taking a look at it (and), per our standard policy, will be in contact with her lawyer," city attorney spokesman Frank Mateljan said.
The city attorney is also considering whether Lohan's probation violation case will be combined into the theft charge for purposes of a plea deal, Mateljan said.
If Lohan chooses to drop her appeal of the probation violation sentence in exchange for no additional jail time on the misdemeanor theft charge, she could be free in just two weeks, based on guidelines explained by sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore.
The 120 days sentence is reduced to 71 days when the state formula for "good time" is applied off the top, Whitmore said. The remaining sentence becomes just 14 days served under the sheriff's guidelines to reduce jail overcrowding, he said. Female inmates locked up for non-violent offenses get out after serving just 20 percent of the sentence, he said.
Lohan's probation officer could recommend that she serve no jail time, but instead be fitted for an electronic ankle bracelet and ordered to stay at home for a time to be determined, Whitmore said.
But Sautner could have the final word, insisting on a minimum amount of jail time for Lohan, he said.
Lohan was just weeks away from being free from supervised probation stemming from two drunk driving convictions in 2007 when she was charged with felony grand theft. She allegedly walked out of a Venice, California jewelry store 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, prosecutor 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 2010 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 last August, when the sheriff let her out early from a 90-day probation-violation sentence.