Probation Violation Could Prove Worse than New Felony Charges for Lindsay Lohan
Given the number of times Lindsay Lohan has been in court since her DUI arrest in 2007, the fact that she was back in court yesterday shouldn't be newsworthy or even noteworthy. But this time, Lohan faces felony charges of grand theft, in connection with a $2500 necklace that she is accused of stealing from Kamofie & Co., a Venice, CA jewelry store. Unlike the misdemeanor drunk driving charges, Lohan faces up to 3 years in prison, if convicted. (Download the state's charging docs here.)
Now, that doesn't mean she'll do 3 three years. Although, as TMZ reported, the store's video surveillance appears to have Lohan on film, taking the necklace, they also report that the store's owner gave several conflicting stories to police. Lohan is claiming that the store loaned the necklace to her, and if the key witness's credibility is in question, that could be enough to raise reasonable doubt. But because Lohan is still on probation for the DUI charge, the bigger issue for her could be whether this most recent arrest constituted a probation violation, which could send her back to jail once again.
While I haven't seen the specific terms of Lohan's probation, the boilerplate terms, which are found in most sentencing orders, include a requirement to obey all laws. According to this California criminal defense attorney who specializes in probation violations, even being arrested can be a violation. But the biggest problem a criminal defendant faces when accused of a probation violation is the fact that the prosecution only need prove its allegations by a preponderance of the evidence (a much much lower threshold than beyond reasonable doubt). Preponderance of the evidence, essentially means, "more probable than not."