March 10, 2011 — -- A Los Angeles judge today gave Lindsay Lohan a deadline of March 25 to decide whether she wants to accept a plea deal or go to trial on a felony charge of stealing a $2,500 necklace.
The exact terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Superior Court Judge Keith Schwartz made it clear that any deal in his courtroom later this month would involve jail time.
If Lohan rejects the plea offer, she is scheduled to appear at a preliminary hearing in front of another judge on April 22 to determine whether there is enough evidence for her to stand trial.
The judge was visibly upset that some news outlets have reported details of the plea negotiations.
"Thankfully, this case doesn't involve military secrets," he said of the outlets reporting the plea deal. "These guys ought to be in the foreign services. They ought to hook up with the CIA and work for them. I don't even tell my wife what's going on, so I can't understand how they find out. It's not fair to either side to have these things leaked out in dribs or drabs. It doesn't benefit anybody, so please try to keep every offer I made confidential, and that's that."
Scwhartz has ordered any other motions relevant to the case to be filed in writing and under seal.
Clad in a gold leather tunic and black tights, Lohan, accompanied by her mother, Dina, stayed silent for most of the hearing in a Los Angeles courtroom, seated next to her lawyer, Shawn Chapman Holley.
If convicted, Lohan could go to California state prison for as long as three years. The 24-year-old actress already has been to jail three times in the past three years for DUI, drug possession and probation violations.
California criminal defense attorney Dana Cole thinks it's unlikely Lohan will serve time for the jewelry case.
"No one's cutting her any breaks," he told ABCNews.com. "This is not a major felony case at all. I doubt she will do any jail time on this felony. It could get reduced to a misdemeanor. The question is the probation violation. That will only be dealt with after the necklace caper is resolved in one way or the other."
At Lohan's last appearance on Feb. 23, Judge Keith Schwartz set her bail at $40,000 -- $20,000 each for the felony charge and for violation of her probation stemming from her 2007 DUI case. The judge warned Lohan that any plea deal would involve jail time.
"If you plead in front of me, you are going to jail, period!" Schwartz told Lohan during the February hearing. He reiterated that in today's hearing.
Lohan's only public comments outside of court about the case have been to the TV show "Extra," where she said she is embarrassed by the legal spectacle.
"I don't like the attention," she said on "Extra." "I don't want that. I want my attention to come through my films, from the work that I'm doing."
But Lohan reportedly has said that the necklace in question was loaned to her by the jewelry store Kamofie & Co. and her assistant returned it to police.
After detectives started looking into the case and began preparing a search warrant, a friend of Lohan's brought the necklace to the Pacific Division police station.
This week Kamofie & Co. sold the rights to the security video of Lohan for an undisclosed price. The store owners said Wednesday they will auction off the necklace and donate the proceeds to charity, but they won't be able to do so until the case is resolved because it is being held by prosecutors as evidence.
Lindsay Lohan: Here We Go Again
It's not the first time the star has been connected to a theft investigation.
In 2009, British police investigated the disappearance of $400,000 worth of Dior jewels from a photo shoot Lohan did with Britain's Elle magazine. At the time, Elle released a statement exonerating Lohan, saying, "Elle has no reason to believe that Lindsay Lohan was in any way responsible."
In 2008, Lohan was sued by a college student who claimed the actress stole and wore her $12,000 mink coat. In April 2010, Lohan was questioned by police in connection with a stolen $35,000 Rolex. The person who filed the report withdrew her complaint before police could determine if a crime had been committed.
Earlier this year Tanning Vegas filed a lawsuit against Lohan claiming that she owed the company more than $41,000 in unpaid tanning fees she racked up between 2007 and 2009. In 2009, the same company accused Lohan of stealing its formula for a spray tanning product she sold under her Sevin Nyne label.
In December, Lohan came under investigation for allegedly assaulting a staffer at the Betty Ford Clinic, where she carried out her most recent round of rehab.
Lohan lost her most high-profile job of late in November. She was slated to star in the biopic of porn star Linda Lovelace, but because of her recent troubles, the film's director switched her out for "Watchmen" actress Malin Akerman.
Lohan butted heads with E-Trade in 2010. She sued the financial services company for $100 million for a talking baby commercial that, according to her, made a mockery of her personality. The two settled in September for an undisclosed amount.
2010 Not a Good Year for Lohan
2010 wasn't exactly a banner year for Lohan: In September, she tested positive for drugs and had her second prison stint before beginning rehab at Betty Ford. She also spent part of the summer in a separate rehab program.
The real lowlight of Lohan's year probably was the 14 days she spent in prison. In July 2010, she received a 90-day sentence for violating her 2007 probation.
This was after she missed a May probation hearing because, according to her, someone stole her passport while she was at the Cannes Film Festival. Lohan was spotted partying in France prior to coming back to Los Angeles, where a warrant was issued for her arrest. She escaped jail time but was ordered to attend weekly alcohol education classes and wear an alcohol monitoring bracelet.
It all pales in comparison to Lohan's biggest blunders yet, a set of screw ups that continue to make her life a mess. In 2007, she was arrested for two DUIs, one of which ended with police finding cocaine in her pocket. That year's infractions led to 84 minutes of jail time, multiple stints in rehab and a probation sentence with which Lohan still grapples nearly four years later.
ABC News' Barbara Garcia contributed to this report.