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Prosecutors reduce Downey drug charge

Robert Downey Jr.  

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Actor Robert Downey Jr. will return to a California court Thursday to face drug possession charges stemming from his Thanksgiving arrest.

Prosecutors have decided to reduce one count to a misdemeanor, according to Deputy District Attorney Tamara Capone, leaving just one felony charge.

Downey, 36, pleaded not guilty in January to two counts of felony cocaine and valium possession and one misdemeanor count of being under the influence of a controlled substance. Attorneys for Downey are challenging the legality of his arrest, saying police did not have probable cause to enter his private suite based on an anonymous 911 call.

Capone said Wednesday the case will proceed but she had agreed with Downey's lawyers that valium possession is a misdemeanor charge under California law.

Downey will be re-arraigned Thursday and a Riverside County judge is expected to set a hearing date on the legality of the arrest.

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Downey is at a mandatory six-month-minimum live-in drug treatment facility in Southern California following an April 24 arrest for being under the influence of a controlled substance. Prosecutors declined to file criminal charges in that case, instead allowing state correction officials to handle it as a parole violation.

A spokesman for the California state Department of Corrections said Downey will remain under strict supervision and be required to submit to more frequent drug tests as part of his rehabilitation.

Downey was released from state prison in August after serving time for violating his probation on other drug-related offenses.

He was arrested in November at the Merv Griffin Resort in Palm Springs, Calif., after police responded to a 911 caller reporting someone in the room had guns and drugs. No weapons were found.

Capone said police acted appropriately and prosecutors have enough evidence to go to trial. Downey rejected a recent plea bargain after prosecutors demanded he serve jail time.

If convicted, Downey could be sentenced to state prison. He is free on $15,000 bond.

In January, Downey was honored with a Golden Globe trophy for his role in the television series "Alley McBeal" and later received the Screen Actors Guild Award as best supporting actor.


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