The 30-year-old star of Girl, Interrupted (and, yes, Reality Bites) was picked up by Beverly Hills police at around 7 p.m. Wednesday after security guards at the swanky Wilshire Boulevard store purportedly nabbed her during a five-finger shopping spree. Police say she was caught with several articles of clothing and hair accessories, worth about $5,000.
Ryder was arrested and booked on charges of felony grand theft and possessing pharmaceutical drugs without a prescription. The actress was released from custody just after 11:30 p.m., after posting $20,000 bail.
Despite the criminal run-in, Beverly Hill cops described Ryder as "very friendly, polite, cooperative" and "a nice lady." (Even behind bars, she's just too cute!)
At an afternoon press conference, Beverly Hills Police Lt. Gary Gilmond said security officers witnessed Ryder leaving the story with $4,760 in unpaid merchandise. He also said the store's security camera caught Ryder trying to remove sensor tags from the clothing.
But the actress' lawyer says the charges are bogus. "There was no theft. I'm telling you right now there was no possession of prescription medications without a prescription," said attorney Mark Geragos. "The charges, I'm convinced, once the Beverly Hills PD has a chance to investigate it, will be rejected."
He said Ryder had receipts for the clothing and a prescription for the painkillers she was carrying. He also claimed she was just carrying the items between departments and was simply busted by overzealous security guards. "It's a misunderstanding on the part of the store," he said.
Both Gilmond and Geragos said Ryder showed no signs of being under the influence of narcotics when she was arrested.
The actress' publicist had no comment.
Ryder's due to be arraigned January 11 in Beverly Hills Superior Court.
Lately, the elfin starlet has been better known for her rotating list of rock star boyfriends than recent film roles. While she's never had a problem picking out musical talent (beaus have included Beck, Ryan Adams, Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum and the not-quite-musical Matt Damon), the actress has had a little less luck with big-screen choices like Autumn in New York and Lost Souls.
Her film credits include 1988's Beetlejuice, The Age of Innocence and Little Women (which scored her back-to-back Oscar nominations in 1994 and '95) and Alien Resurrection. She also executive produced and starred in Girl, Interrupted, which helped launch costar Angelina Jolie from pouty-lipped unknown to Oscar-winning A-lister.
Of course, you'd think that if Ryder had learned anything from her Reality Bites role, it would be that the best way to score free stuff is by using your father's gas station credit card. But we digress.
(originally posted at 1:20 p.m. PT)