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Robert Downey Jr. Avoids Jail For Drug Charges

An Article By Terence T. Gorski
GORSKI-CENAPS Web Publications
Published On: July 16, 2001          Updated On: August 07, 2001
© Terence T. Gorski, 2001

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Robert Downey Jr. Avoids Jail For Drug Charges 010716

Chelsea J. Carter of the Associated Press reported on July 16, 2001 that Robert Downey Jr. pleaded no contest to two cocaine-related charges in a plea bargain that will keep the actor out of jail.

Under the deal, reached under California's Proposition 36, a new policy of stressing cure over punishment in drug cases, Downey was sentenced to one year in a live-in rehabilitation program and three years of probation. He will have to pay a series of fines and was ordered to comply with a set of regulations including random drug testing.

The actor, nominated for an Oscar for the film ``Chaplin'' and for an Emmy just last week for ``Ally McBeal,'' pleaded no contest to one count of possessing cocaine and one count of being under the influence. A third charge was dropped.

Superior Court Judge Randall White explained the terms of the deal and warned Downey he could go to prison for up to four years if he violated the terms of the deal.

Downey, 36, was arrested at Merv Griffin's Resort Hotel and Givenchy Spa in Palm Springs last November. Authorities allegedly found the drugs in his hotel room after receiving an anonymous call.

Downey checked into a Malibu drug rehabilitation center after he was arrested yet again in April, this time in Culver City, and tests showed he had traces of cocaine in his system. The arrest cost him his ``Ally McBeal'' role, but prosecutors decided to handle it simply as a parole violation. No charges will be filed.

The deal to settle the Palm Springs charge was struck under Proposition 36, which California voters approved last year. It removes the threat of prison for drug offenders unless they are charged three more times with drug violations or repeatedly fail to cooperate in treatment.

``This is not a gift of the court,'' White told Downey. ``This is going to be hard work. It can provide a tremendous benefit to you and to the public as well. But you are going to have to work at it.''

Outside court, defense attorney James Epstein said Downey is in good spirits, and grateful that ``the state of California is now treating his problem as an illness and not a crime.''

His attorneys said Downey could undertake acting jobs while in rehab but at present wants to concentrate on his recovery. Any such jobs would have to be approved by authorities and carefully supervised.

Deputy District Attorney Tamara Capone said she was pleased with the outcome, too.

``We got the conviction. That was the most important thing,'' she said. ``Under the new law, I can't be that aggressive.''

Downey's legal troubles date back to 1996 when he was stopped for speeding and authorities found cocaine, heroin and a pistol in his vehicle. A month later he was found passed out in a neighbor's home and was hospitalized at a substance-abuse treatment center. Three days later, he was arrested for leaving the center.

In August 1999, Downey was sentenced to three years in prison for violating his probation by missing scheduled drug tests. He was released a year later on $5,000 bail.

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About the Author

Terence T. Gorski is internationally recognized for his contributions to Relapse Prevention Therapy. The scope of his work, however, extends far beyond this. A skilled cognitive behavioral therapist with extensive training in experiential therapies, Gorski has broad-based experience and expertise in the chemical dependency, behavioral health, and criminal justice fields.

To make his ideas and methods more available, Gorski opened The CENAPS Corporation, a private training and consultation firm of founded in 1982.  CENAPS is committed to providing the most advanced training and consultation in the chemical dependency and behavioral health fields.

Gorski has also developed skills training workshops and a series of low-cost book, workbooks, pamphlets, audio and videotapes. He also works with a team of trainers and consultants who can assist individuals and programs to utilize his ideas and methods.
Terry Gorski is available for personal and program consultation, lecturing, and clinical skills training workshops. He also routinely schedules workshops, executive briefings, and personal growth experiences for clinicians, program managers, and policymakers.

Mr. Gorski holds a B.A. degree in psychology and sociology from Northeastern Illinois University and an M.A. degree from Webster's College in St. Louis, Missouri.  He is a Senior Certified Addiction Counselor In Illinois.  He is a prolific author who has published numerous books, pamphlets and articles.  Mr. Gorski routinely makes himself available for interviews, public presentations, and consultant.  He has presented lectures and conducted workshops in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.  

For books, audio, and video tapes written and recommended by Terry Gorski contact: Herald House - Independence Press, P.O. Box 390 Independence, MO 64055.  Telephone: 816-521-3015 0r 1-800-767-8181.  His publication website is

Terry Gorski and Other Members of the GORSKI-CENAPS Team Are Available To Train & Consult On Areas Related To Addiction, Recovery, & Relapse Prevention
Gorski - CENAPS, 17900 Dixie Hwy, Homewood, IL 60430, 708-799-5000,,

This article is copyrighted by Terence To Gorski.  Permission is given to reproduce this article if the following conditions are met:  (1) The authorship of the article is properly referenced and the internet address is given;  (2) All references to the following three websites are retained when the article is reproduced -,,,; (3) If the article is published on a website a reciprocal link to the four websites listed under point two is provided on the website publishing the article.

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