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Downey drug case expected to proceed to trial


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LOS ANGELES, California -- Actor Robert Downey Jr. has refused to accept a plea offer stemming from his recent drug charges as attorneys on both sides try to settle the case out of court, prosecutors and defense lawyers said Wednesday.

"There was an offer made but talks have stalled," said Riverside Deputy District Attorney Tamara Capone. "We need to move to the next step."

A California judge is expected to set a preliminary hearing date Thursday if the case is not resolved. Downey is not required to appear and the actor's lawyers said he will not.

Downey, 35, was arrested Thanksgiving weekend at a luxury hotel in the desert resort of Palm Springs, Calif.

He faces possession of cocaine, felony possession of Valium and a misdemeanor count of being under the influence of a controlled substance. If convicted on all three counts, he could be sentenced to four years and eight months in state prison. He is free on $15,000 bond.

He entered a plea of not guilty to the drug charges in January.

Downey was recently honored with a Golden Globe award and Screen Actors Guild trophy for his role in the television series "Ally McBeal."

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

If no out-of-court deal is reached, a preliminary hearing will be held to determine if there is enough evidence to try Downey on the charges, according to his attorney, Daniel Brookman.

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