The actress gets her felony shoplifting charges reduced as she is praised for her progress

June 18, 2004 03:00 PM

Winona Ryder, still on probation for felony shoplifting, had her charges reduced to misdemeanors on Friday, as a judge praised her progress and eased restrictions against her so she may resume her film career.

Beverly Hills Superior Court Judge Elden S. Fox noted that the Girl, Interrupted actress had completed her court-ordered 480 hours of community service at the City of Hope, a charitable Southern California hospital facility.

The jurist then announced that because Ryder, 32, had demonstrated that she was a good citizen who abided by the rules, he was reducing the original theft charges against her to misdemeanors and placing her on unsupervised probation through December 2005.

“He doesn’t want to do anything to damage her career,” Ryder’s attorney, Shepard Kopp (of the Law Offices of Geragos and Geragos), said outside court, according to wire reports.

Kopp said he expects that at some point all the newly reduced charges will be completely expunged from Ryder’s record.

A smiling Ryder – wearing a black suit over a white blouse with her light brown hair pulled back into a bun – entered the courtroom at 9 a.m. She later thanked the judge and the prosecutor but didn’t to speak to reporters.

Ryder, who has been under supervision by a fulltime probation officer, has just finished shooting the futuristic A Scanner Darkly, which also stars Keanu Reeves and Robert Downey Jr.

Last Nov. 6, Ryder was convicted of grand theft and felony vandalism for a shoplifting escapade at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills on Dec.12, 2001. (The jury acquitted her of another charge, commercial burglary.)

Judge Fox initially sentenced Ryder to three years’ probation, 480 hours community service and a court-prescribed counseling program. He also ordered her to pay more than $10,000 in restitution and fines.

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