Die Hard director John McTiernan faces a year in jail after losing a bid to have the US Supreme Court review his guilty plea for perjury and lying to the FBI.
Prosecutors had accused McTiernan, 62, of lying about hiring former private investigator Anthony Pellicano, who represented many Hollywood stars, to wiretap a film producer.
McTiernan pleaded guilty in 2006 after the FBI obtained a recording in which the men discussed the wiretap, but withdrew his guilty plea a year later after hiring a new lawyer.
He was then indicted a second time and, after failing to suppress the recording, entered a conditional guilty plea allowing him to appeal. The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals rejected that appeal last August, prompting him to try to take the case to the Supreme Court.
His failed bid to have the Supreme Court review the lower court's decision, a ruling announced on Monday, paves the way for McTiernan to fulfill the sentence handed to him at the time of his guilty plea: a year in federal prison, which was issued with a $100,000 (£62,274) fine.
McTiernan was behind the camera for the debuting 1988 hit starring Bruce Willis and returned for the third film in the series, Die Hard: With a Vengeance, in 1995.
But his legal fate means he may be imprisoned when the fifth instalment, A Good Day to Die Hard, comes out next month.
McTiernan's directing credits also include Predator, The Hunt for Red October, and The Thomas Crown Affair remake.
According to imdb.com, he last released a film a decade ago, directing John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson in 2003's Basic.