UPDATE: On Jan. 20, 2011, Neiers pleaded not guilty to felony possession of a controlled substance and misdemeanor possession of a smoking device. She was ordered to return to court in March.
The troublemaking E! reality star—who has been locked away in a jail cell since her Dec. 1 bust for heroin and a fake ID—escaped a possible two-year prison sentence today. Instead, she was ordered to a yearlong stint in residential rehab.
Why the lesser sentence?
Judge Peter Espinoza decided to go against the prosecutors' recommendation and take it easy on Neiers, after she admitted in court she violated her probation by copping to possession of the heroin, drug paraphernalia and a fake Florida ID.
"Let me make this clear. If you come back to me for using heroin you are going to prison," said Espinoza. "This is the last time we are going to have this conversation. No one is going to do anything to change the fact that you are a heroin addict for the rest of your life. They can only help you stop using."
Deputy District Attorney Chris Baker had pleaded with the judge to lock her up for the maximum sentence, but Espinoza said he was choosing to send her to the program because state prison would do nothing to deal with her addiction—and in fact could make it worse because heroin would be readily available .
Neiers was hauled into court wearing the standard-issue orange jail jumpsuit with her hands shackled to her waist. Her mom, Andrea Arlington, and little sister Gabrielle were in there to show support.
The owner of SOBA Recovery Center, Greg Hannley, was also present. He said his Malibu-based facility would be the ideal place for Neiers to recover. Espinoza agreed.
"We have great results for people who are in similar situations," Hannley told E! News "We don't just get people off drugs and alcohol. We treat the underlying problem."
Arlington, meanwhile, said she was happy with the facility because of the "holistic approach" it takes in helping recovering addicts.
During that stint in the Century Regional Detention Center, Neiers was, for a short time, in a cell adjacent to Lohan.