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Charges Dismissed for Robert Downey Jr.

July 20, 2002|JESSICA GARRISON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Riverside County judge dismissed drug charges against actor Robert Downey Jr. on Friday and ended his probation for drug possession at a Palm Springs resort.

Over the prosecutor's objections, Superior Court Judge Randall White in Indio found that Downey had stayed sober for more than a year and should have his probation lifted.

Downey's lawyer, Jim Epstein, said the Academy Award-nominated actor was "ecstatic" and plans to get back to work as soon as possible.

Downey, 37, pleaded no contest last year to drug charges after his arrest at Merv Griffin's Resort Hotel and Givenchy Spa. Under Proposition 36, a ballot initiative that mandates treatment rather than jail for many drug offenders, Downey was sentenced to a year at a live-in drug rehabilitation facility.

Any probation violation could have put him back behind bars for four years.

Downey also was arrested in 1996, after authorities found cocaine, heroin and a pistol in his car. He pleaded no contest and was placed on probation. Three years later, he was sent to Corcoran State Prison for violating the terms of his probation by failing to submit to drug tests.

Downey remains on parole in connection with that case. Because of the parole and the probation, he was unable to get insurance to work on movies, Epstein said. With the probation now lifted, he should be insurable, the lawyer added.

Downey also plans to continue speaking to youths about the dangers of drugs and addiction, the attorney said.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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