"I've made a lot of poor decisions in the past and I'm dealing with the consequences with those decisions," Lohan, 24, said as she sat down with the "The Tonight Show" host. "But I'm a fighter and I know that I have to work to gain the respect back. I'm willing to do the work I have to do to follow through with being an actress."
The troubled actress was greeted with a standing ovation as she walked on the stage while taping the interview Monday. It was the first interview she has given since she was sentenced to four months in jail last week.
Lohan on Her Sentence
The actress told Leno that said she could not discuss details of the case because it was still pending but said she was shocked by the sentence.
"I didn't really expect the outcome to be what it was," she said. "But I'm a big girl and I'm going to do what I'm told to do and that's what I'm going to do to continue on with working in my life. I'm taking responsibility."
A Los Angeles judge sentenced Lohan to 120 days in prison Friday for violating her probation by allegedly stealing a $2,500 necklace.
It was a charge the judge reduced from felony grand theft to a misdemeanor.
Lohan's attorneys appealed the jail sentence -- her fourth since 2007 -- and she was freed on bond after a few hours behind bars.
When asked whether she thought she was treated fairly, she said she thought she was treated the way she should have been.
The actress told Leno her time in jail was "an interesting experience and it was definitely a wake-up call."
Lindsay Lohan to Work at Los Angeles Morgue
Lohan was also sentenced to 480 hours of community service, 120 of which she will complete by picking up trash, cleaning bathrooms, and mopping floors at the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner's facility.
"She'll be doing basic janitorial work," Coroner Assistant Chief Ed Winter told People magazine Monday. "She won't be handling any dead bodies, but she'll certainly see them."
Lohan must finish the last 360 hours of service at the Downtown Women's Center, a homeless shelter located on L.A.'s Skid Row.
But there might be more punishment in store for Lohan.
She faces a June 3 trial for misdemeanor theft, which could get her a maximum penalty of another year in jail.
Moving On and Lessons Learned
Besides discussing her recent court appearances, Lohan also reconfirmed that she's playing the wife of John Gotti Jr. in the crime movie "Gotti: Three Generations." (Lohan was originally vying to play Victoria Gotti; her casting as Kim Gotti was announced last week but it's unclear if her legal drama will affect her participation in the movie.)
Lohan said fans have been very supportive despite her personal troubles.
"I feel that I've let a lot of my fans down by putting myself in situations when I wasn't thinking clearly. And I just really want to be the person that I aspire to be," she said. "Be the actress and be in this industry and be in movies and do what I love to do and bring characters to life that people can relate to and my fans have been really supportive of me doing that."
She also said she's learned from her missteps and plans on working toward her goals.
"Being young and being in the position I was in, you don't really take the time to appreciate what you have and it's all kind of whirlwind and people make decisions for you," she said. "But I'm not a kid anymore. I'm 24. I've made a lot of mistakes and I recognize that. But I'm in the clear now and I feel like as long as I stay focused, then I will be able to achieve what I want to achieve."