Downey gets probation and rehab

Jul 17, 2001 by Ian Evans

Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr. pleaded no contest to drug charges stemming from his November arrest at the Merv Griffin Resort and Hotel in Palm Springs.

The former Ally McBeal star was sentenced to three years probation, including one year in a live-in drug rehabilitation program. The deal will allow him to avoid another prison stint, but the judge warned him this was not a “get out of jail free” card.

“This is not a gift of the court,” said Riverside County Superior Court Judge Randall White. “This is going to be hard work. It can provide tremendous benefit to you and the public as well, but you’re going to have to work at it. If you choose not to work at it, if you choose to allow yourself to fail in this program, the consequences will be severe to you, and possibly to the public as well.”

The plea deal is partly due to California’s Proposition 36, a law approved by voters last November that calls for treatment instead of prison for most non-violent drug offenders.