Only one remnant remains -– a troubled past without a valid California license. Rather than accept a plea deal that her lawyer says was too harsh, Britney Spears will go to trial.
The singer will most likely not appear in court when the jury trial is scheduled to start Wednesday. Because it's a misdemeanor charge, she is not required to. That the case has gone this far, however, demonstrates that Spears is being unfairly targeted because of her celebrity, her attorney, J. Michael Flanagan, said.
"It's absolutely extraordinary," Flanagan told ABCNews.com.
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Flanagan said cases like these are usually reduced to an infraction after the person charged produces a valid license and pays a $10 fee. From the beginning, Flanagan said, the judge and Los Angeles City Attorney's Office were unwilling to do that.
Instead, Flanagan said, the city prosecutor offered a plea deal that would have required Spears to plead guilty to a misdemeanor and accept a year's probation and $150 fine.
Flanagan said he rejected the offer because Spears does not deserve a criminal conviction on her record. "The easiest thing would have been to take the plea," he said. "But it doesn't seem right to me."
Frank Mateljan, spokesman for the city attorney's office, denied that Spears had been singled out. "We've consistently dealt with this case the way we do any other," Mateljan said. "She's decided to continue this process to this point."
The case stems from an August 2007 incident in which Spears hit a parked car in a shopping center and left without notifying the owner. She was originally charged with a misdemeanor hit-and-run. That charge was dismissed in November through a civil compromise, in which Spears agreed to cover the damages and the car's owner agreed to not pursue the case further.
On Sept 26, 2007, however, the city attorney filed an additional misdemeanor charge. "During a subsequent investigation, we found that she was driving without a valid California license," Mateljan said. "You can't un-ring that bell. We filed that charge along with the original hit-and-run."
Spears, who is originally from Kentwood, La., had a valid Louisiana license. But prosecutors say she violated California Code 12500, which requires drivers to get a California license within 10 days of establishing residency.
Flanagan said the city attorney is using her 2007 divorce papers as evidence. Under oath, she told the court she had been a resident of California for six months.
After being charged with a violation, Spears got her California license on Oct. 2, 2007. Showing the new license is typically enough to reduce the charges, said Flanagan, who has handled mostly driving offenses in his 38 years of practicing law.
"The judge will line up eight or nine at a time and say, 'Do you have a license? OK, see the clerk and pay a $10 fee,'" he said. "Most are not even represented by counsel."
Flanagan estimates that 95 percent of these cases are adjudicated that way.
City attorney spokesman Mateljan said, "I don't know what the exact statistics are. But this incident didn't take place in vacuum. There are other underlying circumstances.