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What Lindsay Lohan Will Face in Court

Lindsay Lohan is due back in court Friday to face a new judge but a likely familiar result -- jail, rehab or judgment postponed.

The troubled starlet has publicly admitted to failing a court-mandated drug test, which could trigger a 30-day jail sentence. But as with most things involving Lohan's three-year-old court case, the script isn't set.

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It will be the "Mean Girls" star's first appearance before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elden S. Fox, who is holding an arrest warrant to compel her appearance. The judge had said he would sentence her to a month in jail for each drug test she skipped or failed, but he still has discretion on her punishment.

The actress wasn't present for that hearing, which was held hours after her release from rehab.

Unless Lohan, 24, requests immediate sentencing, the judge will have to set bail and release her until a formal probation revocation hearing can be held. A return to rehab is also an option.

Law enforcement and court officials say they do not know how Fox will handle Lohan's case, but that they are prepared for any ruling.

"Whatever he determines, we'll abide by," said Jane Robison, a district attorney's spokeswoman. "Sentencing is in his hands."

Steve Whitmore, a sheriff's department spokesman, agreed, saying the jail was ready to book Lohan if necessary.

Immediate sentencing could result in Lohan going directly to jail, but she would likely be released within days due to overcrowding. She has twice been released early to overcrowding, with Lohan's longest jail stay a 14-day stint on a 90-day sentence earlier this summer.

Lohan's previous jail appearance in 2007 lasted 84 minutes. Her 90-day sentence at an inpatient rehab facility last month was shortened to 23 days.

Another stint in rehab remains a possibility, especially since Lohan seemed to acknowledge an addiction problem after news of her positive drug test broke last week.

"Substance abuse is a disease, which unfortunately doesn't go away over night," Lohan posted on her Twitter feed last Friday. "I am working hard to overcome it and am taking positive steps.

"This is certainly a setback for me but I am taking responsibility for my actions and I'm prepared to face the consequences," her posts said.

Lohan's attorney, Shawn Chapman Holley, did not return phone or e-mail messages seeking comment.

On "The Early Show" CBS News Legal Analyst Jack Ford said realistically Lohan isn't going to go without punishment.

"I don't know if she will be in the clink tonight," he said. "I don't think she will go home, ultimately. She will go someplace else, but I don't think it's going to be home."

The actress remains on probation for a reckless driving and two driving under the influence charges, all misdemeanors. Fox dropped two drug cases at a hearing in August during which he announced Lohan's release from rehab and set out a strict outpatient treatment schedule that included random drug screenings.

Fox has sealed Lohan's court file, but a source familiar with the case has told The Associated Press that the actress' failed test came roughly two weeks after her release from rehab.

Michael Nasatir, a veteran criminal defense attorney who has represented clients in Fox's court said he expects the judge to evaluate whether Lohan is serious about treatment.

"She's in front of a very, very fair judge and he knows the process of recovery," Nasatir said. "He knows that relapses are a process of recovery."

Ford added on "The Early Show" that Lohan's day in court has a lot of possibilities.

He said, "She could walk in and say, 'You know what? I'm pleading not guilty to this, other circumstances are involved,' in which case they were set it down for another date, full blown hearing, witnesses. She could walk in and say as on Twitter feed, her lawyer, 'Yes, look, made a mistake. We breached the requirements here and could be handled right away today. The judge might say, 'OK, there's no issue. The only issue what am I going to do as a judge here."

So what is the possibility that Lohan could be headed back to rehab - or even jail?

Ford explained, "You know what, when you have a violation of probation, the judge has a vast opportunity, in terms of what he or she is going to do here. We know that the judge had warned her saying, 'If you come back here again, you know, bring your toothbrush. You're going for 30 days.' The judge doesn't still have to send her for 30 days. If I'm her lawyer I might come in and say, 'Judge, here's what we want to do. We've set up our own rehab schedule, a hardcore place she's not walking out in two weeks but there for 30, 45 days. Let's do that, a better resolution of this than dropping her jail for 30 days. As you said, even if she says 30 days, one of the questions about this whole thing is the integrity of the justice system out there. If 30 days means five days who is it helping? It is not helping the system."

"Early Show" co-anchor Harry Smith remarked, "On the other end, among all the heinous crimes being committed out there all this time -- all of this court time being consumed by this case."

Ford said, "It's a dilemma because you've got to have respect for the justice system and sentences but as you said is this a murder? Clearly not. Something to be dealt with in some fashion, obviously."

As for Lohan's career, Ford said there could be a way for her to keep working, despite the issues she's facing.

Lohan is set to star in a movie about porn star Linda Lovelace in November.
He said, "I had a client one time say to me, 'I don't want to be probation. Let me do my jail time because I know I won't do well on probation. So, I'll sign off to do my, you know, 30, 60, 90 days because I won't have somebody looking over my shoulder.' I don't know if (Lohan) would say that, it would not be a good thing. But professionally, if she needs to get out and do this film … it might well be she might say that."

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