It might not be the most glamorous holiday present, but California Governor Edmund G. Brown gifted Robert Downey Jr. with a pardon for his 1996 drug conviction. According to the governor’s office, the actor falls among 90 others receiving pardons from the governor Thursday.
Nearly 20 years ago, Downey was arrested on a Los Angeles Country highway and sentenced on Nov. 6, 1996 for “possession of a controlled substance, carrying a concealed weapon in a vehicle with a prior conviction, driving under the influence with priors, and use or under the influence of a controlled substance.” Per The Associated Press, these substances included heroin and cocaine. The Oscar-nominated actor went on to spend nearly a year in jail and time on parole in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
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A release from the governor’s office shows the actor’s pardon, which notes that “since his release from custody” Downey Jr. “has lived an honest and upright life, exhibited good moral character, and conducted himself as a law-abiding citizen.” It continues, adding, “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.”
While a pardon does not erase the crime from Downey’s criminal record, it allows him to serve on a jury and be appointed to certain government jobs, along with restoring his right to vote.