Ryder Convictions Reduced to Misdemeanors

The judge in actress Winona Ryder's (search) 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 (search) warned the actress that if she breaks the law before the end of her probation in December 2005, she would be sent to jail.

Fox then asked if she had any questions.

"No," Ryder replied. "Thank you."

Ryder was convicted in 2002 of felony grand theft and vandalism for stealing several thousand dollars worth of merchandise from a Saks Fifth Avenue (search) store in Beverly Hills in 2001.

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 was also ordered to undergo psychological and drug counseling.

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

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

Ryder, wearing a black pantsuit with a white blouse and black cap, 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 (search), commended the judge's decision to reduce the charges to misdemeanor theft. By placing Ryder on unsupervised probation, she will have greater freedom to pursue her Hollywood career, 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 Academy Award nominations for her roles in "Little Women" and the "The Age of Innocence." She has also starred in the movies "Heathers" and "Girl, Interrupted." (search)