Robert Downey Jr. Receives Pardon For 1996 Drug Crimes

By McCarton Ackerman 12/28/15

Nearly 20 years after being busted, the Iron Man star has completely turned his life around for the better.  

Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr. was given one of the best possible Christmas gifts he could have received this year: a full pardon for his drug conviction 20 years ago.

The actor was one of 91 people pardoned by California Gov. Jerry Brown on Christmas Eve, which has become an annual tradition for the politician. Downey Jr.’s ruling from a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge stated that he “lived an honest and upright life, exhibited good moral character and conducted himself as a law-abiding citizen since his release from prison.” Although the pardon does not erase the records of his crime, it’s intended to eliminate obstacles a recipient might have had in obtaining state licenses or certain forms of employment.

Downey Jr. was arrested in June 1996 he was stopped for speeding on the Pacific Coast Highway and authorities found cocaine, heroin and a pistol inside his car. He was ordered to drug counseling and sentenced to three years of probation, but violated his probation by failing to submit to drug testing on three separate occasions. He was then given a three-year jail sentence in August 1999 for those violations, but released after a year. Downey Jr. was arrested again for drug possession in November 2000, but avoided a multi-year jail sentence and instead received three years of probation and mandatory drug rehab. He said that he has been sober since July 2003 due to a combination of therapy, yoga, kung fu and 12-step programs.

“Job one is get out of that cave,” he said in September 2014 to Vanity Fair. “A lot of people do get out but don’t change. So the thing is to get out and recognize the significance of that aggressive denial of your fate, come through the crucible forged into a stronger metal.”

Downey Jr. is now reportedly working on producing a drama for Showtime that take place in a Venice Beach rehab during the 1980s. His next film, Captain America: Civil War is set to be released on May 6.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.