This file photo released by the Glendale Police
Department, shows Nicole Richie's booking mug
after her arrest Dec. 11,
2006, for investigation of
driving under the influence of alcohol, in
Glendale, Calif. [AP]
LOS ANGELES - Nicole Richie will have to decide Wednesday whether to accept a
plea deal offered by prosecutors in her driving-under-the-influence case,
according to a court spokesman.
Richie was not required to attend the court hearing because she faces a
misdemeanor charge. Her attorney, Shawn Chapman Holley, was expected to appear
on behalf of her client and either accept or reject the plea deal, said Allan
Parachini, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Terms of the deal were not made available and the district attorney's office
declined to comment. A phone call and an e-mail message left for Chapman Holley
were not immediately returned.
On Tuesday, the attorney asked Superior Court Commissioner Steven K. Lubell
to delay the trial because one of her witnesses would not be available until
Aug. 5. The commissioner told her to submit motions on Wednesday, when Richie's
trial was originally scheduled to start.
Richie, 25, was arrested early on Dec. 11 after witnesses reported seeing her
SUV headed the wrong way on a freeway in Burbank. She allegedly failed a field
sobriety test and authorities said she told them she had smoked marijuana and
taken a prescription painkiller. No drugs were found on her or in the vehicle.
She pleaded not guilty in February to misdemeanor driving under the
In addition to the single count, the case contains an allegation that Richie
had a prior misdemeanor DUI conviction in June 2003.
The California Vehicle Code says that if convicted of DUI twice within 10
years, a person can be sentenced to between 90 days and a year in jail and have
driving privileges suspended.
Her legal problems come amid reports that she is pregnant. Her publicist has
not answered repeated telephone and e-mail messages from The Associated Press.
Her case also comes on the heels of Paris Hilton's June 26 release from jail.
Hilton, Richie's partying pal and co-star in TV's "The Simple Life," spent about
23 days in custody for violating probation in an alcohol-related reckless
Hilton's case drew a firestorm of criticism, with some saying she received
preferential treatment when she was initially given an early release to home
confinement and others arguing the judge was too harsh and made Hilton an
example by sending her to jail.
Some observers believe Richie could help herself by attending the trial. She
also might want to avoid being late to court hearings ¡ª like Hilton was once.
"Anything that appears humble before the court is wise," said Hollywood
publicist Michael Levine. "I think there's a backlash afoot because of the
Hilton trial and anything to nullify it would be a good idea."
Others believe Lubell will be unmoved by what happened in Hilton's case and
will follow the law accordingly.
"I think it's going to be in the back of his mind," said defense attorney
Mark Geragos, who has represented Winona Ryder and Michael Jackson. "But if it's
a second DUI offense, it usually carries a mandatory amount of jail time."
Richie, the daughter of pop singer Lionel Richie, made the late-night
talk-show rounds last month, saying she didn't visit Hilton while she was in
jail. Richie told CBS' "Late Show" host David Letterman that she was worried
about going to jail, but was "willing to face whatever consequences come my