Robert Downey Jr. Received An Early Christmas Gift: Clemency

Robert Downey Jr. probably received the only gift he really needed this Christmas eve, when the governor of California issued a pardon for the Iron Man star. Jerry Brown, the governor of California, granted clemency to Mr. Downey Jr. for all of his past crimes.

Robert Downey Jr. takes advantage of a Christmas Eve tradition

Robert Downey Jr
Robert Downey Jr. Receives a pardon from the California governor. Image via Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.

It has become something of a tradition for California residents to seek a pardon for their past crimes on Christmas Eve. If clemency is granted, as was the case in the Iron Man actor’s situation, a person’s entire criminal record may be scrubbed. This was just what Downey Jr. needed, following his heavy drug use in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

For his fans, it may be something hardly worth remembering, but Robert Downey Jr. will not easily forget that the ’90s in particular were a troublesome time for the actor, marked by several drug-related stints spent in jail. Among several 1996 arrests, including driving under the influence and possession of controlled substances, Robert ended up serving a total of two years and eight months in jail. Mr. Downey Jr. remained on parole until 2002.

“I accidentally [got] involved in heroin after smoking crack for the first time. It finally tied my shoelaces together,” Downey Jr. told Rolling Stone back in 2010. “Smoking dope and smoking coke, you are rendered defenseless. The only way out of that hopeless state is intervention.”

This all seems to be water under the bridge for Downey Jr., who has made both professional and personal comebacks. Even the pardon notes Robert’s reformation and positive image in the community, asserting that Mr. Downey Jr. “has paid his debt to society and earned a full and unconditional pardon.”

Getting a pardon in California is no easy task, not even for Iron Man

Robert Downey Jr, Hall of Fame
Robert Downey Jr was inducted into the California Hall of Fame. image via Theo Wargo for NBC/Getty Images.

Every year, hundreds, if not thousands, of California residents apply for Christmas Eve clemency from the governor, but the state has strict guidelines outlining who is eligible for a pardon. This year, for example, saw only 91 pardons, including that of Robert Downey Jr. Many of the other residents receiving clemency from the governor had been convicted of minor drug offenses. The major factor which determines whether or not a subject receives the yearly pardon is the regulation that the person in question remains clean for a 10-year minimum, following his or her release from prison.

While Robert didn’t specifically mention his past troubles or the pardon he received on December 24, Mr. Downey Jr. did allude to the situation in a post sent out to his Instagram followers.

“You’re only on the naughty list if you get caught,” he wrote, hashtagging the post with “#HappyAlmostChristmas.”

News that Mr. Downey Jr. was granted this state pardon comes just a few short months after Robert was inducted into the California Hall of Fame. This past October, the Iron Man actor received the honor, which was established in 2006.

“Had the honor of being one of a number inducted into the CA Hall of Fame yesterday by Gov Brown. Thrilled to be in any group that includes Bruce Lee and Peanuts creator Charles M Shulz,” Mr. Downey Jr. said of being inducted.

The California Hall of Fame is said to show appreciation for legendary pioneers who exemplify the California spirit of innovation and achievement. If anyone embodies that kind of a strength of will and enduring spirit, it’s Robert Downey Jr. Few can struggle with drug addiction and all that comes with it, only to come back better than ever and take Hollywood by storm. Robert hasn’t just continued his acting career. He’s gone from drug addict to Iron Man. Who else can say that?

[Featured image by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]