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LOS ANGELES — Actress Lindsay Lohan could return to court in two weeks to cut a deal on a felony theft charge for allegedly stealing a necklace from a Venice, Calif., jewelry store.
During a Thursday hearing, Judge Keith Schwartz told the "Mean Girls" star, who has had several brushes with the law in recent years, that she would return to his courtroom March 25 only if she struck a plea bargain with the prosecution.
Otherwise, fellow Judge Stephanie Sautner will preside over an April 22 preliminary hearing to determine if enough evidence exists for the actress to stand trial.
Sautner also will decide whether the alleged theft was a violation of Lohan's parole for a 2007 drunken driving incident — something that could send her back to jail before she is even tried in the theft case.
Schwartz, who met privately Wednesday with the prosecution and Lohan attorney Shawn Holley, bemoaned the numerous leaks to the media during the plea process and begged everyone involved to keep mum about possible deals.
"Thankfully, this case doesn't involve military secrets where people's lives are at stake," he said, stirring a chuckle from the heavy crowd of reporters in the courtroom.
Websites such as TMZ and RadarOnline "ought to be in the foreign service," Schwartz added. "They ought to maybe hook up with the CIA and start working with them. I don't understand how they get this information."
Lohan, who arrived in court in a relatively demure camel-colored dress with black tights, is accused of stealing a $2,500 necklace studded with semiprecious stones from a Venice jewelry store. Portions of a security camera video purporting to show the actress taking the necklace was sold earlier this month to "Entertainment Tonight."
At a hearing last month Schwartz warned the actress that she would be heading to jail if she took a deal and pleaded guilty or no-contest to the shoplifting charges.
"If you plead in front of me — if this case is resolved in front of me — you are going to go to jail. Period," Schwartz told Lohan, who has been jailed three times in other incidents. "It may be an issue as to the amount of time. ... I don't want you under any apprehension. You will be going to jail."
Prosecutors in Riverside County, Calif., also are reviewing allegations that Lohan battered a Betty Ford Center technician last December. Lohan has denied the allegation.