Downey on Parole

06/17/1998 at 12:00 AM EDT

Robert Downey Jr. has gotten a breather from some of his current legal woes. Malibu Superior Court Judge Lawrence Mira, who had ordered the actor to prison for violating probation in an earlier drug case (dating back to 1996), ruled yesterday that Downey, 35, had served enough time related to his incarceration in California state prison in Corcoran but was to be placed formally on parole. (He will need to check in regularly with a parole officer, said his attorney.) Downey was released from that facility in August after serving a year. The purpose of Tuesday's hearing, which ran only a half hour, was to "re-evaluate credits on time served," said the judge, who, according to Reuters and the Associated Press, noted that proceeding was unrelated to the felony drug charges Downey faces in connection with his arrest Nov. 25 in Palm Springs. Judge Mira also wished Downey good luck. The Oscar nominee (1992's "Chaplin") and "Ally McBeal" star now faces a Dec. 27 arraignment on charges that he used drugs in Palm Springs. If convicted on all three counts in the case (felony possession of cocaine, felony possession of the prescription sedative diazepam, also known as Valium, and a misdemeanor count of being under the influence of a controlled substance), he could be looking at a maximum sentence of four years and eight months in state prison.

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