SAN FRANCISCO | Jan. 6, 2012 | Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi may be en route to the San Francisco Hall of Justice today as rumors float of  a possible plea being struck.

The embattled East Bay lawmaker was not expected to appear for her preliminary hearing this morning. Hayashi was charged Oct. 25 with felony shoplifting charges after she alledged stole $2,450 worth of clothing from a San Francisco Neiman Marcus.

The attorney for Hayashi, Douglas Rappaport, twice this morning entered the chambers of San Francisco Superior Court Judge Gerardo Sandoval. He told reporters upon leaving the court, he was due back at 1:30 p.m.

Rumors at the courthouse continue to swirl over the potential of Hayashi making a appearance later this afternoon. Rappaport would not confirm the belief.

Meanwhile, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon met upstairs with reporters and appeared amendable to the possibililty of Judge Sandoval lowering Hayashi’s charges to a misdemeanor.

“This is a case that clearly contains the elements, in our opinion, of a crime as a felony,” Gascon said, who also added Hayashi is also a first time offender. “That plays a part in the discussion.”

“The court is certainly going to make their own decision and I think all that’s appropriate,” he said. “We are certainly open to other outcomes.”

Later in the press conference, Gascon said, “If the court decides to lower it to a misdemeanor, then that would be the appropriate course and we’ll support the court.”

Simply lowering Hayashi’s charge could be done without her in attendance, said a court worker. Last Dec. 7, Sandoval, for a second time, excused Hayashi from attending her preliminary hearing.

Gascon disagreed with those who contend his office is being too lenient with the three-time assemblywoman. “While what she did is unexcusable and she needs to be held accountable for her actions, I think it is appropriate to examine all the other possibilities.”

“We handled this case the same way we would handle any other case in a similar situation,” he said. “Regardless of what your status in the community is the case should be handled the same and that’s what we are doing.”