Winona Ryder's Plea: Girl, Innocent

02/06/2002 at 12:10 PM EST

It's "The Age of Innocence," all right. Winona Ryder -- who last Friday was charged with four felony counts for allegedly lifting nearly $5,000 in merchandise from the Beverly Hills branch of Saks Fifth Avenue on Dec. 12 and possessing the controlled substance Oxycodone (a morphine derivative) -- slipped into a Los Angeles courtroom on Tuesday, three days before she was due to appear, and pleaded not guilty, say news reports. She wore a conservative business suit, reports the New York Post, and remained quiet throughout the proceedings. Her attorney, Mark Geragos, did all the talking for her, including the entering of the plea, said the paper. The appearance of the 30-year-old actress ("Girl, Interrupted") was announced afterward by the L.A. county district attorney's office, though no explanation for her early visit was given. Ryder faces one count each of second-degree commercial burglary, grand theft of personal property, vandalism with more than $400 damages and possession of the drug, according to court papers. She remains free on $20,000 bail, but prosecutors have recommended an increase to $30,000. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 11. If she is convicted, she could face a sentence of three years and eight months in state prison, reports the Los Angeles Times. Speaking to reporters after the indictments came through last week, Geragos said that he was not surprised charges were filed but that he believed their severity was "out of whack."

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