Lindsay Lohan is exactly where she needs to be. According to a judge, that is, and not popular, rational or legal opinion.

While the troubled starlet seemed all but guaranteed to earn yet another trip to jail today, Judge Elden Fox magnanimously (and shockingly) decided to give Lohan another crack at rehab instead.

In related news, Lindsay needs to buy herself a lottery ticket stat, because she has luck that will not quit.

While the D.A. was pushing for a whopping six months in jail, Fox instead ordered Lindsay to remain in rehab until Jan. 3 and also approved the removal of her SCRAM device.

"You note the fact that I am keeping you past New Year's," Fox said.

Lohan must report back to court on Feb. 25, and comply with random drug testing. The judge also warned her that any violation will result in a mandatory 180-day jail sentence.

Though since we've heard that one before, we'll believe it when we see it.

Lindsay Lohan

Toby Canham/Getty Images

"I've been on the case since the start," prosecutor Danette Meyers protested. "This is her fifth program. There is a cycle here. Program, violation, program, violation. The only way you are going to get her attention is to put her in jail for 180 days.

"To continue this cycle of probation, violation, is of no benefit to her or to the state of California."

Fox explained in court that his decision to allow Lohan more time in rehab was because of her long-awaited acknowledgment that she was an addict.

"You did write a letter to this court and I appreciate that," Fox said. "Epiphanies come in different ways and I'd like to think my taking you into custody at the last hearing contributed to that.

"And if you notice all these people in the courtroom. There is nothing better than a trainwreck of a celebrity. Let me be clear, I am going to do exactly what the D.A. wants if you violate the program in any way, if you leave the program before and if you test positive...If you are serious about what you wrote in this letter, you are an addict. Apparently that is something you now acknowledge."

And not just on Twitter.

Attorney Shawn Chapman Holley admitted the probation violation—a couple of cocaine-tinged drug tests—to the court.

"Relapse is a part of recovery," she said. "She is being treated. She is here today with her counselor from Betty Ford. I would ask the court not to punish her. She is trying her best. She would like to remain in Betty Ford and continue her treatment."

The order was handed down after a lengthy meeting between the judge, Holley and Meyers in chambers, where Fox was apparently unmoved by the plea. When they emerged, LiLo, who had been sitting nervously with mother Dina in the front row of the courtroom, suddenly looked relieved and showed off her ankle to the gallery, thus giving the first signal that the starlet had once again managed to escape some jail time.

Lohan will finish out her rehab sentence at Betty Ford, where she has spent the last few weeks, only emerging last night in order to make today's court hearing.

Taking a break from her usual harried, last-minute arrivals, Lindsay calmly sauntered into court an unprecedented 30 minutes early for the hearing, donning a conservative black blazer, white top and jeans and headed straight to Fox's third floor courtroom.

She was accompanied by longtime attorney Holley, new attorney Tom Hansen, an entertainment expert who has worked deals for Mel Gibson Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Stewart, as well as Dina. While father Michael Lohan arrived just moments later, he was not immediately allowed into the courtroom. So, the justice system does work sometimes.

The ever-unwelcome Michael, incidentally, showed up with cuts and scars on his hand and neck and pleaded with a sheriff's deputy to see Chapman, but was told he could enter the courtroom with the rest of the public at 8:30 a.m.

"I hope the judge is going to let her stay in rehab," Michael told E! News.

Well, at least one person's happy with today's outcome. Actually, make that two.

While Lindsay quietly left the courthouse minutes after the hearing ended, a man once again conveyed his excitement by throwing gold glitter on the starlet. Nice when things come full circle.

(Originally published on Oct. 22, 2010 at 9:35 a.m. PT)

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