Lindsay Lohan’s behavior hasn’t been the best, but her latest legal travails over her alleged theft of a $2,500 necklace is a clear case of over-reaching by Los Angeles prosecutor and courts.
The authorities don’t take kindly to anyone who thumbs their nose at the system — and God knows Lohan did plenty of that following her 2007 DUI arrest.
But the necklace case would never have gone this far against anyone else, especially if the merchandise had been returned as it was in this case.
Barring a full admission of guilt, which obviously won’t be forthcoming, the evidence is too inconclusive to support a felony theft conviction.
The case has grown even weaker given the recent antics of the store, Kamofie & Co.
First it sold the surveillance tape to a media outlet and then announced plans to auction the necklace for charity.
The tape supports Lohan as much as it hurts her, given her insistence she borrowed the necklace, not an unusual practice with celebrities.
There’s even question whether the necklace is worth $2,500.
Prosecutors typically have wide discretion in pursuing cases, but the evidence should have gone to a grand jury before charges were brought.
Grand juries are designed specifically to provide a check on overweening prosecutors.
They can objectively weigh evidence to prevent abuse of the process, including both favoritism and undue persecution under the law.
Given the legal standard for conviction in criminal cases — guilt beyond a reasonable doubt — no grand jury or jury, for that matter, conceivably could convict Lohan in this case — given all that’s happened.
In a court appearance today, Los Angeles Judge Keith Schwartz gave the troubled actress until March 25 to decide whether she will plead guilty or no contest to the theft charge.
But the move was as much face-saving for the court as it was for Lohan.
The cost and hassle of a trial must be weighing on Lohan’s mind as much as the possibility of a jury conviction.
And that’s why this case should never have been brought. It’s no longer a matter of guilt or innocence.
But with jail time already assured by the court in the event of a plea, Lohan would be crazy to accept such a deal.
If Lohan decides to proceed, she’ll go before Judge Stephanie Sautner for a preliminary hearing on April 22.
Sautner will decide if there is enough evidence to hold a trial and will decide on her alleged parole violation as well.
This case was a tempest in a teapot to begin with, and despite exercising poor judgment, Lohan has lately fulfilled the requirements of her probation.
She has completed treatment at the Betty Ford Center and expressed a serious desire to focus on work.
The felony theft case has turned into a farce even by LA legal standards, in no small part, because of the actions of the jewelry store, but also because of the prosecutor’s vindictiveness.
The case should be dismissed so Lohan can get on with her life, already.