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3 Years For Robert Downey Jr.

Actor Robert Downey Jr. has been sentenced to three years in state prison for violating probation from a 1996 drug conviction.

Municipal Court Judge Lawrence Mira, who presided over Downey's original case in 1996, said he has given the Oscar-nominated actor many chances to rehabilitate himself. But Mira said Downey has manipulated doctors and psychiatrists who have examined his progress. The sentence was handed down Thursday in Malibu.

"I don't think we have any alternative," the judge said. "We have used them all."

Defense attorney Roger Shapiro argued that Downey should again receive probation and be allowed to continue treatment at a drug treatment center.

"This is a person who is suffering from a disease he can't control. Even the dire threat of jail or prison is not enough of a deterrent," he said.

A clean-shaven Downey, who walked into court wearing an orange Los Angeles County jail jumpsuit with slicked back hair, told the judge he understood why the court's patience had run out.

But he pleaded to be given another chance to rehabilitate himself at a drug treatment center called Impact.

"It's been the right program at the right time for me," he said. "I feel whatever decision you make will be the right one. ... But I feel a transition has happened to me."

After Downey finished speaking, Mira said his overriding concern was the safety of the public in imposing the prison sentence.

The judge gave Downey 201 days for time served and ordered him to pay restitution of $600.

After the sentence was announced, a deputy walked to Downey, ordered him to stand and cuffed his hands behind his back.

Downey nodded to several friends sitting in the front row of the courtroom before being led out of the courtroom.

Downey was initially arrested in June 1996 after police stopped him for speeding on Pacific Coast Highway. His pickup truck contained cocaine, crack, heroin and a pistol. A month later, he entered a stranger's home and passed out on a child's bed. Three days later, he was arrested for leaving a recovery center.

He was sentenced in November 1996 to three years probation after pleading no contest to the drug and weapons charges. He spent about three months in a live-in rehabilitation program.

Downey's probation was revoked in October 1998 after his drug counselor told authorities Downey used drugs and alcohol in September in violation of a court order. In June, a judge ordered him to jail until today's hearing.

Downey's movie credits include Less Than Zero, Restoration, Natural Born Killers, One Night Stand, Two Girls and a Guy and U.S. Marshals.