Actor Brad Renfro, who broke into movies at the age of 12, has been charged with a felony count of attempting to possess heroin after being arrested in a Skid Row police sting.

Renfro, now 23, was freed on $10,000 bail Friday and is scheduled for arraignment on Dec. 30. If convicted, he could avoid prison because a 2000 law requires that first- and second-time nonviolent drug offenders be sent to treatment programs instead, said Jane Robison, a district attorney's spokeswoman.

His first film role was a young crime witness marked for death in 1994's "The Client," which starred Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones. His other credits include "Tom and Huck," "Ghost World," "Bully" and "The Jacket."

Renfro was arrested Thursday in a sting that netted 14 other people, police said.

"He was contrite about being arrested and he readily acknowledged that he had a drug problem," police Lt. Paul Vernon said at a news conference.

Undercover officers were working an area known as "Heroin Alley," where people were eagerly trying to buy drugs despite the presence of reporters and photographers. "The sales were occurring minutes apart," Vernon said.

Renfro has had a series of run-ins with the law. His most recent previous encounter was on Nov. 24, when he was charged with a misdemeanor count of driving under the influence and two counts of driving with a suspended license, said city attorney's spokesman Frank Mateljan.

There was no response Friday to calls seeking comment from Renfro's listed agent, manager and attorney.