Britney Spears' License Trial Begins - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Britney Spears' License Trial Begins

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Britney Spears did not have a valid California driver's license more than a week after she hit a parked car and drove off, a state investigator testified Thursday.

The Department of Motor Vehicles investigator was the prosecution's first witness in Spears' misdemeanor driving-without-a-valid-license trial. Jury selection concluded Thursday morning with the selection of eight women and four men, and brief opening statements followed with Los Angeles City Deputy District Attorney Michael Amerian using only two minutes and calling the case "very straightforward."

Spears' attorney countered that Spears' residency was anything but simple. The pop singer considers Louisiana as her home, and is registered to vote and exercises a homestead exemption on property taxes there, said J. Michael Flanagan.

He said Spears was exempted from having a California license because she didn't meet residency requirements. Flanagan also told jurors that Spears had attempted to apply for a California license months before the accident, but the DMV was unable to take her photo.

But DMV investigator Gary Edmonds said records indicated that Spears had not applied for a license as of Aug. 15, 2007.

The case may be brief: Amerian and Flanagan have agreed that Spears was driving on Aug. 6, 2007, when she hit a parked car and left the scene - negating the need to establish that Spears was behind the wheel at the time.

Spears, 26, has not appeared in court. Flanagan said this week that a final decision had not been reached on whether she would appear or testify, though he's said that wasn't expected.

If convicted, Spears faces jail time and a fine, although she has no prior criminal record, so her penalty is unlikely to be severe.

While the singer - whose new single "Womanizer" is No. 1 on this weeks' Billboard charts - hasn't been in court, her star power complicated the jury selection process.

All 31 prospective jurors said they knew of Spears and her exploits. Some referenced her custody dispute with ex-husband Kevin Federline, and one man said he worried about the singer's influence on his daughters.

One man who ended up on the jury told Flanagan during questioning, "I think she needs a lot of help."

All the jurors who were eventually chosen indicated they could treat Spears fairly and would not hold it against her if she didn't testify or appear. The panel includes a schoolteacher and others who work in a variety of industries, including banking, insurance and health care.

Spears was originally also charged with hit-and-run, but settled that part of the case.

Flanagan indicated Spears doesn't want to call Los Angeles home for much longer. He told jurors that the singer is building a new home in Louisiana, and hopes to move back there after she can regain custody of her young boys, Jayden James and Sean Preston.

Federline currently has full custody of the couple's children. Spears remains under the conservatorship of her father, James, who controls the singer's personal and financial affairs.

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