Britney Spears' father Jamie has appeared in court on her behalf over her charge of driving without a valid California driver's licence.

The Baby One More Time star faced two misdemeanour charges over an August 2007 incident in which she left a parking lot after bumping into an unattended vehicle.

While she was cleared of a hit-and-run charge last year - having agreed to compensate the other driver - the singer pleaded not guilty to a separate charge of driving without a valid licence for California.

Her legal team turned down a plea bargain of a year's probation and a $150 (£87) fine at a Los Angeles hearing last week, and her father appeared on her behalf on Thursday as his daughter exercised her right to stay away from court.

Britney's lawyer Michael J Flanagan said the singer had a valid Louisiana licence at the time of the incident and did not need a Californian permit as she was only a temporary resident of Los Angeles and planning to return to her home state.

"She was residing in California - I'm not trying to get tricky with terminology but 'resident' has a different definition," he told the court.

He had earlier claimed his client was being unfairly targeted due to her celebrity, and does not deserve a minor criminal conviction.

The prosecution argue that as her address was listed as Beverly Hills, she required a Californian licence. Closing arguments are expected on Friday.

The 26-year-old's new single Womanizer debuted at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 earlier this week, marking her first US number one since her breakthrough hit Baby One More Time in 1999.

17/10/2008 12:53:50