Robert Downey Jr. receives pardon for 1996 drug conviction

Story highlights

  • Robert Downey Jr. spent time in prison for drug-related convictions
  • The "Iron Man" actor was one of 91 people who received a pardon from Gov. Jerry Brown

(CNN)Robert Downey Jr., who spent time in prison in the late 1990s for drug convictions, received a full and unconditional pardon on Thursday from California Gov. Jerry Brown.

The "Iron Man" actor was one of 91 people who received a pardon from Brown -- mostly for minor drug offenses -- in what has become an annual Christmas Eve tradition in the governor's office. The individuals completed their sentences and have been released from custody for more than a decade without further criminal activity, according to the governor's office.
People convicted of a crime in California may apply to the governor for a pardon. Applicants must receive a court order declaring he or she is rehabilitated and show they have lived "productive and law-abiding lives following their conviction," according to the governor's office.
    "Pardons are not granted unless they are earned," the governor said in a statement.
    Downey was convicted in 1996 of possession of a controlled substance, carrying a concealed weapon in a vehicle with a prior conviction, driving under the influence and use of a controlled substance. It was a time in his life when his substance abuse and brushes with the law overshadowed his acting talents.
    He served one year and three months in prison, two years on parole and nearly three years on probation for his convictions, according to the governor's office.
    Since then, Downey has "paid his debt to society," according to a proclamation on the governor's website. "... He has lived an honest and upright life, exhibited good moral character and conducted himself as a law-abiding citizen."