David McNew-Pool/Getty Images
David McNew-Pool/Getty Images
Another Friday, another Lindsay Lohan court date.
But the newly announced member of the Gotti family could be in for double trouble tomorrow as she goes before a judge for both a preliminary hearing in her necklace-theft case and a probation-revocation hearing on whether she's caused enough trouble to be thrown back in jail immediately.
So many possibilities—not even including speculation on what she'll dare to wear to court—and we've broken them down for you right here:
What's a preliminary hearing again?
That's when the prosecution has to convince a judge that there's enough evidence against a defendant to proceed with a trial. Criminal-defense attorney Troy Slaten (who's not involved with the Lohan case) tells E! News that the District Attorney's Office has the option of calling a series of witnesses or just the lead investigator who talked to the various players.
In this particular case, Slaten says, he expects that prosecutors will call multiple witnesses "for a couple of reasons."
"One, political," he says. "They know there are going to be a lot of people watching, and they want to talk to potential jurors and counteract the stories that have been in the media [about] how the victims in the case sold their story [the jewelry store surveillance tape] for money. Second, to bolster the probation-revocation hearing. What they would like to have happen here is, at the end of the prelim, they want Lindsay to be remanded, and the maximum is up to six months in jail."
What will Team Lohan do tomorrow?
It isn't uncommon for the defense to not call their own potential trial witnesses to testify during the preliminary, but rather try to poke as many holes in the prosecution's evidence as possible. Slaten says he expects that Lohan's attorney, Shawn Holley, will spend considerable time cross-examining the D.A.'s witnesses.
"As a defense strategy, you want to lock the witnesses down. So that way, if they change it at all, then you have material to impeach them," says Slaten. "You want to nail them down to every possible thing."
If Holley were to start introducing their own evidence into the proceedings, they could be "tipping their cards to the prosecutor," Slaten notes. "That is a tactical decision that Shawn Holley will have to make."
Who's the decider?
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephanie Sautner is "known for being a tough judge, but fair," Slaten says.
She surely seems to be no-nonsense: Sautner will not be allowing cameras in her courtroom tomorrow (though E! Online will be livestreaming Lindsay's arrival!). She knows that, sometimes, "people play to the cameras and act differently when cameras are around," Slaten tells us. "The judge here wants to do justice and there will be the opportunity for the press to be in the courtroom."
In the courtroom taking notes, that is.
What's the chance the judge rules there's insufficient evidence for a trial?
"It is very, very tough to win the prelim," says Slaten, adding that the burden of proof for the prosecution is relatively low, compared to the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt case it has to prove at trial.
What's the best case scenario?
Lohan walks out of there a free woman, with the judge ruling she neither violated probation nor should be put on trial for felony theft.
Is there a chance in heck of that happening?
"The chance of her not being held to answer [to the theft charge] and of her not being in violation of probation is extremely, extremely slim," says Slaten. "The burdens [of proof] are just so low. I'm surprised she didn't take the deal."
Lohan adamantly refused a deal that would have required her to plea no contest and get at least some jail time in return, as promised by the previous judge on the case.
On the flip side, what's the worst case scenario?
Lohan's probation revocation could be reinstated immediately (she's technically out on bail right now because her probation was revoked when she was first charged) and she could be remanded to jail on the spot, while Sautner simultaneously sets a trial date. And, if she's found guilty of a felony at trial, Lohan could face more jail time.
How much jail time are we talking here?
If Lohan is remanded tomorrow, Slaten says, she could get sentenced to 90 days in jail, not including credit for time served. Regardless, she would almost certainly end up serving just a fraction of that time, anywhere from 10 to 18 days.
"L.A. jails are very overcrowded, and people are only doing 10 to 20 percent of their sentences," he says.
Well, wherever Lohan ends up Friday, we'll be here to tell you all about it.