Robert Downey Jr. Receives Christmas Eve Pardon For Drug Conviction

Pardon 20 years later: Robert Downey Jr. has been pardoned by the California governor on a 1996 drug conviction for which the actor served time behind bars.

Downey was one of 91 rehabilitated individuals who received a full and unconditional pardon from Gov. Jerry Brown on Christmas Eve as part of an annual tradition of clemency proclamations.

The pardon for the Iron Man star read in part, “By completion of his sentence and good conduct in the community of his residence since his release, Robert John Downey, Jr. has paid his debt to society and earned a full and unconditional pardon,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

On October 20, as a precursor to the pardon, Downey obtained an order from a Los Angeles Superior Court judge that he has conducted himself as a law-abiding citizen since paying his debt to society.

Later that month, Downey, 50, was inducted into the California Hall of Fame.

Downey’s past problems with the law resulted from drug issues.

“Downey was convicted of felony drug possession after he was stopped for speeding on the Pacific Coast Highway in Los Angeles County in June 1996 and authorities found heroin, cocaine and a pistol in his vehicle.In 1999, he was sent to prison after he acknowledged violating his probation. He served a year and three months,” the Daily Mail explained.

The pardon restores Downey’s voting rights although the criminal conviction is still a matter of public record.


“Downey, who was once a courthouse mainstay for a series of drug-related arrests, has become perhaps Hollywood’s greatest success story for career and addiction rehabilitation,” the New York Post noted about the turnaround saga.

“Downey, Jr., battled with addiction through the latter half of the ’90s, but has reportedly remained sober since, and has gone on to act in some of the most successful movies of his career,” The Hill added.


In a 2008 New York Times interview, Downey famously alluded to a political change in addition to a behavioral change in connection with his time in jail, on which he has subsequently declined to elaborate.

“I have a really interesting political point of view, and it’s not always something I say too loud at dinner tables here, but you can’t go from a $2,000-a-night suite at La Mirage to a penitentiary and really understand it and come out a liberal. You can’t. I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone else, but it was very, very, very educational for me and has informed my proclivities and politics ever since.”

Downey won’t have any problem paying any legal fees that are due from securing the pardon, if any. In August, Forbes indicated that Downey is the world’s highest-paid actor, a benchmark he has achieved for three years in a row. As the Inquisitr previously reported, Downey earned an estimated $80 million between June 2014 and June 2015, with most of the cash coming from Avengers: Age of Ultron, which grossed more than $1.3 billion worldwide.


Although Downey is apparently still in negotiations to reprise his role as Tony Stark in Iron Man 4, there is no news yet on when filming on Iron Man 4 might begin. Sherlock Holmes 3 is in development, according to Downey, however.

Downey is starring in the soon-to-be-released Captain America: Civil War, which is now in post-production. Downey currently has 82 acting credits on IMDb. Among many honors for his work, Robert Downey Jr. was nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award for his performances in Chaplin (1993) and Tropic Thunder (2009).

“Pardons are not granted unless they are earned,” Brown said in a statement about the Robert Downey Jr. pardon 20 years later as well as the 90 others he issued on Christmas Eve.

[Photo by Chris Pizzello/AP]