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Lindsay Lohan pleads not guilty to theft charge

If convicted, the 24-year-old "Mean Girls" star could be sent to prison for up to three years, prosecutors say.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Lindsay Lohan pleaded not guilty to felony grand theft of a $2,500 necklace — a case that could return the troubled starlet to jail rather than the big screen.

She entered the plea Wednesday through her attorney Shawn Chapman Holley. If convicted of the theft charge, Lohan could face up to three years in state prison.

"Look around this room," Superior Court Judge Keith Schwartz told Lohan. "Everybody else has to follow the law. You're no different than anyone else. So please, don't push your luck."

Schwartz set bail at $40,000. He said it appeared Lohan had violated her probation in a 2007 drunken driving case and warned that if she violated the law while free on bail he would have her arrested and held.

Holley said Lohan was entering an early disposition program where she could work out a deal to keep the case from going to trial.

She said Lohan has received good reports from her probation officer and has not failed any drug screens.

Prosecutor Danette Meyers rejected the idea that Lohan has been well-behaved.

"Well, a good probationer doesn't pick up a new case," Meyers said.

Schwartz ordered Lohan not to have any contact with the jewelry store that reported the necklace missing. The order came after Meyers said that someone sent the store flowers on Lohan's behalf after police started their investigation.

Lohan, 24, posted bail and was released about an hour after the hearing. She spoke little during the arraignment, except to acknowledge her name and that she understood the charge and possible consequences.

The charge was the latest — and most serious — legal problem for the actress, who remains on probation in a 2007 drunken driving case.

Police and prosecutors claim Lohan took the necklace from a store in the beachside community of Venice on Jan. 22, weeks after she was released from a rehab facility where she was accused of misconduct.

The former Disney star has struggled with the terms of her probation, and was sentenced to rehab twice and jail twice last year.

Judge Schwartz will determine if Lohan violated the terms of her probation, which required her to obey all laws and submit to random drug and alcohol testing.

The jewelry case is not Lohan's only concern. Prosecutors in Riverside County are considering whether to charge the actress with battery for an altercation with a rehab worker at the Betty Ford Center in December.

The worker was fired after giving an on-camera interview to celebrity website TMZ, but district attorney's spokesman John Hall has said the allegation against Lohan was under review.

The threat of incarceration has hung over Lohan since May, when a judge handling her DUI case determined she violated her probation by missing weekly alcohol education classes.

Her three stints in jail in the past three years have all been shortened by overcrowding and the fact that she could not be held without bail on a misdemeanor.