Trial of the Century, so far. The Accused: a child movie star, on probation for 3 criminal cases, 2 of them DUIs within a month of each other, both involving cocaine.
The Defense: “I was thinking that it was OK that I missed those classes. . . “
| Childhood Hollywood Star Lindsay Lohan just heard the fat lady sing in her DUI Probation Violation Hearing in the Beverly Hills Courthouse this morning. And it was not the sweet song of freedom, it was something like the Folsom Prison Blues. |
There was a one day trial to determine if she was guilty of violating probation. Lohan’s team put up a good fight. Her attorney did, that is.
All of the main players were women. The judge was a woman, the prosecutor was a woman, so was the bailiff, so was the defense attorney, so was the . . . . wait, were there any men there at all?
Lohan herself drew pictures on a note pad while documents were presented. She didn’t even notice when the judge gave her a giant break by dismissing the allegations that she tampered with her alcohol detecting ankle bracelet.The prosecutor claimed she had proof Lohan violated probation by drinking alcohol, and by tampering with the bracelet. The judge called it a “bail violation” and ignored it.
Lohan wore pink and blue fingernail polish. One of her finger nails had writing: “fuck u”. No wait – UPDATE – she had it on both hands.
Yes, the judge gave her a huge break to start the game. I guess she didn’t notice the nail polish. Remaining Charges = failure to complete substance abuse classes as ordered by the court after her first, second and third arrest (Vehicle Code section 23152, Health and Safety Code sec 11550, etc.). Generalized probation violations (plural).
The judge previously ordered Lohan to attend one session of treatment a week, no excuses. And she missed a few. Then she missed a court date. Then she was late for another court date. Then . . .
DUI WARRANT OR PROBATION VIOLATION? TrafficCourtPros.com
First line of Defense:
Defense Attorney: “You cannot have the treatment records because they are protected by the Doctor/Patient Privilege.”
Judge: “What? these people are not doctors!”, said the judge. You have to tell the court what happened or she goes to jail now.
Second line of Defense:
DUI / DRUG Program personnel cannot testify because they do not want to incriminate themselves. They are evoking their 5th Amendment Rights to not testify against themselves.
“WHAT?” asked the judge. That does not make any sense at all – “unless you lied” on the documents.
Suddenly, the witnesses are gone, nowhere to be found. Will anyone testify against Lindsay????? She did have a “Letter of Compliance” from the center. It was a family owned treatment center. Was that enough? Why are we here?
Well, this ain’t the Jimmy Hoffa trial. This ain’t the Ray Lewis trial. This aint the OJ Trial. That’s not Johnny Cochran (quoth the audience). But it is the trial of the century. Does she get it, or what?
Does who get it? Does the judge get it? Does Lindsay Get It? Does the judge get it and give it to Lindsay even though Lindsay doesn’t get it, in a kinda ‘Gotta get it, put it in you’ sort of way?
Everyone watching the live TV Feed from the courtroom could tell this judge is pissed off and knows that she is on live TV.
So, no, the “letter” is not going to work. This is not Judge Ito. And the witnesses are not really dead.
Judge has a solution =
Maybe there is no evidence of compliance at all? What about that idea? Lohan was ordered to complete one class a week. Did she do it or not? Do you have the proof or not? This letter looks like unreliable hearsay. Do you have a witness right now or not, Ms. Lohan?????
Oh wait – Surprise! Here they are judge. There are witnesses to prove she did the classes. Yeap. Here they are. Well, there is one. And we need time to copy hundreds of pages of crap to prove that there is nothing to prove. We are in substantial compliance with the court’s order. We just need to make copies. There is nothing bad to hide. Did the judge read the letter? Come on! She did most of the classes. She did one yesterday. . . Why are we here?
In a real probation violation case in Los Angeles County, the burden of proof is much lower than at the beginning of a criminal case. It is easy to get convicted of a probation violation, especially if there are attendance records.
The reason is that once you have been convicted, you have lost most of your rights, including the right to freedom. If the court gives you the gift of probation, and it does not work out, the court does not really need to convict you again. The case is already over, you just need to complete a sentence. A judge can just re-sentence a person who blows probation starting from scratch.
Probation is a privilege that prevents jail time. But probation is not a right. Probation comes and goes with the order of the sentencing judge.
1:30 pm, lunch is over at the Beverly Hills Courthouse. The judge has had a whole hour to think about what to do. Maybe she mulled over the options over her Trader Joe’s Greek Salad. She can see the Beverly Towers from her office, and wonders if she can see Lohan’s apartment.
(I made that up). Bring on the witnesses.
Witness #1 in summary:
Yes, Judge ordered once a week treatment. No excuses. Judge called treatment center Manager via telephone in person to give order. Manager: “I did receive the order on the telephone . . . but not on paper. . . I thought I would get a paper order”.
How many court ordered classes did Lohan miss? Answer: “9″. Did the treatment center notify the court? “No.”
OMG. WTF. FUBAR. FRED. Can we get some popcorn here? Whacha gotta say bout dat?
9 is an unlucky number. Note to self: “Sometimes it is better to just admit a probation violation.” Thought to self: Lohan could have gotten 30 days by admitting violations early. Could have gotten zero days if she realized probation should have been the #1 priority in her life. OUCH.
Prosecutor adds: How many missed court dates? Answer = 2. OUCH.
Finally, at about 3 pm, the judge found that there was sufficient evidence that Lohan missed at least one required class. That is all it took, one missed class. Violation.com. It did not matter how many she missed. She blew the gift of probation into the wind like Colombian fairy dust. Lohan missed 9 court ordered DUI classes – now the government is going to get that time back with interest.
In the end, it was a classic Los Angeles DUI probation violation case. Lohan got what any defendant in the same situation would get. But most defendants do not fight a probation violation through a hearing like this, because it is a waste of time and money.
Who has the money to pay a lawyer to sit there and try to deal with a treatment center’s attendance records and the judge’s anger? Answer: Celebrity in complete denial.
Lohan was on probation for 3 cases. Reckless Driving, 2007 DUI, then 59 days later, another DUI. Oh yea. There was cocaine, and some chasing of people, and car crashes. General coke induced craziness on the streets of LA.
The judge took the facts of all three pending cases under consideration to determine sentencing. The Judge noted: “These facts are very very, .. very aggravating”.
What did Lohan really say to the judge when she had a chance?
“I was thinking that it was OK. . . . ”
It is a good thing she had a defense attorney, and did not talk until the end. She claimed the program allowed her to miss classes – and she thought that was OK. She has to work. Work is important.
When Lohan did get a chance to speak to the judge, it was a moving performance. There were tears, dripping eye make up, straggled hair. “I was just trying to balance court and work”. “I have to provide for myself.” She didn’t seem to realize that just about everyone on probation has to work and provide for themselves. The judge had heard that one before, usually from people with far less resources.
Ultimately, the Judge gave Lohan a probation violation sentence for each of the three cases – 30 days county jail for each case consecutive, 90 days total. And after she is released, she must enroll in and attend 90 days inhouse drug treatment immediately jail. 9 is an unlucky number.
The county jail in Beverly Hills is in the Los Angeles County Jail. OUCH.
Moral of the story:
Lohan did not take probation seriously and got hammered. She thought her work was more important than following the court’s orders regarding her DUI classes. And she made the common mistake of believing that she did nothing wrong after she had in fact violated probation. Then she fought it though a hearing without admitting guilt, and gave the judge a chance on live TV to make an example of her.
For most people, it never goes this far, because if it goes bad, this is what happens. Take DUI probation seriously. If you miss classes, fail to pay a fine, or miss your jail surrender date, get on the problem immediately. Hire an attorney to help clear warrants, and get probation back on track. Every day matters. Getting on top of DUI warrant and probation violations before the court drags you in can greatly increase the likelihood of a good result.
Miss 9 class and get 90 days in LA County Jail? It happens even if you have money. . .
Some attorney estimates say that she will actually serve 30% of the actual sentence, but that is a long time in the LA County Jail – at least for a movie star.
For More Info on Dealing with DUI Warrants and Probation Violations, see www.trafficcourtblog.com