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Shoplifting charges against Winona Ryder reduced

The shoplifting charges against actress Winona Ryder were reduced from felonies to misdemeanors.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The judge in Winona Ryder’s shoplifting case reduced her felony convictions to misdemeanors Friday and allowed her to finish probation unsupervised.

After reviewing Ryder’s probation report, Superior Court Judge Elden Fox warned the actress that she’ll be sent to jail if she breaks the law before the end of her probation in December 2005.

Fox then asked whether she had any questions.

“No,” Ryder replied. “Thank you.”

The 32-year-old “Girl, Interrupted” star was convicted in 2002 of felony grand theft and vandalism for stealing several thousand dollars worth of merchandise from a Saks Fifth Avenue store in Beverly Hills the previous year.

She was placed on three years probation in December 2002 and fined $2,700. She paid $6,355 in restitution to the store and $1,000 in restitution to the court. She also was ordered to undergo psychological and drug counseling.

Ryder had prescription drugs in her possession when she was arrested while shopping on Dec. 12, 2001. A drug charge was filed but eventually dropped after a doctor said he had prescribed the medication.

In December, Fox praised the actress for her behavior during probation. She also has completed 480 hours of community service at the City of Hope Medical Center in Duarte.

Wearing a black pantsuit with a white blouse and black cap, Ryder smiled in court Friday and shook hands with Deputy District Attorney Ann Rundle after the ruling.

“I’m very glad to have this case completed,” Rundle said.

Ryder’s attorney, Shepard Kopp, commended the judge’s decision to reduce the charges to misdemeanor theft. By placing Ryder on unsupervised probation, she’ll have greater freedom to work as an actress, Kopp said.

The judge “didn’t want to do anything to damage her career,” Kopp added. “Eventually, this case will be expunged. There will be nothing on her record.”

The judge also approved a government motion to have surveillance videotapes used as evidence in the case returned to the district attorney’s office. Clothing stolen from Saks Fifth Avenue will be destroyed.

Ryder, who began her film career as a teenager in 1986, earned back-to-back Academy Award nominations in the ’90s for “Little Women” and the “The Age of Innocence.” Her other films include “Heathers,” “Edward Scissorhands” and “Reality Bites.”