Every actor needs a motivation. And Winona Ryder's is this: She's innocent.

As expected, the 30-year-old Girl, Interrupted star entered a plea of not guilty Friday in a Beverly Hills court to charges she went on a $6,000 shopping spree--minus the shopping part--at a posh department store last year.

Following action-packed hearings last week (See a camera bop Winona on the arm! Hear the judge warn reporters to stop bopping Winona on the arm! Witness a prosecution witness describe Winona as a "homeless person"!), today's business was short, and if not sweet, then relatively painless.

Superior Court Judge Elden Fox asked the actress if she was pleading innocent, Ryder replied, "Yes, your honor," and Fox set a pretrial hearing date (July 15). Over and out.

Oh, and Miss Ryder modeled a blue sling on the arm said to have been fractured by that bopping episode on her way into the courtroom last week.

Snarky comments aside, the onetime Gen-X queen of Reality Bites fame is facing a world of trouble relating to her arrest last December 12 at the 90210-zoned Saks Fifth Avenue. If celebs get special treatment in Hollywood, we feel sorry for civilians arrested for shoplifting. As it is, the twotime Oscar nominee, free on $20,000 bail, is staring down a possible three-year, eight-month prison term if convicted of all charges facing her: grand theft, second-degree burglary, vandalism and unlawful possession of the prescription painkiller oxycodone.

There had been buzz about Ryder's camp and the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office reaching a plea-bargain agreement on her case, possibly in time for today's hearing, but, so far, nothing doing.

Prosecutors allege Ryder purposely sliced and diced security tags in a dressing room and then tried to make off with a whopping 20 Saks goodies, ranging from purses to hair bows. They've even made noises about introducing purported evidence of previous Ryder raids. (She has never been convicted of a crime, however.)

Ryder's attorney says the defense will present receipts, and maybe even prove that Saks was dead-set on busting a celebrity--any celebrity--during the Christmas shopping season.

Ryder's legal troubles come as her film career is perking up. Following a two-year absence from the big screen (precipitated by 2000's twin bombs, Lost Souls and Autumn in New York), Ryder will next be seen costarring with Adam Sandler in Mr. Deeds (opening June 28) and Al Pacino in Simone (August 16).

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