If convicted, Lohan could face up to three years in state prison.
Superior Court Judge Keith Schwartz warned Lohan not to push her luck by getting into any more trouble.
"Please don't push your luck ... I'm telling you, things will be different," he said.
Lohan is free after posting $40,000 bail.
Police said Lohan, 24, walked out of the Kamofie and Co. jewelry store with a $2,500 necklace on Jan. 22. Store employees called police, but before authorities had a chance to conduct a search of Lohan's Venice home, an associate of the actress dropped the necklace off at LAPD's Pacific Division Station.
Lohan will return to court on Feb. 23 for an early disposition hearing which both sides will try to come to an agreement on the felony charge and the probation violation.
ABC7 legal analyst Dana Cole says since the merchandise was recovered, it could mean a big break for the actress if she's found guilty.
"A felony can mean state prison," Cole said. "But in this case, because there is no financial loss, the necklace was returned before any criminal charges were even filed. I seriously doubt she'll be looking at state prison"
Lohan's legal woes continue to pile up. Lohan remains on probation for her 2007 DUI. She's being investigated for possible battery against a rehab employee at the Betty Ford Center, and the new theft charge also equates to another probation violation if she's convicted.
A source close to Lohan told People magazine that the necklace was borrowed, not stolen. The friend also said the actress is used to getting gifts and other items that are worth even more than the necklace.