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Baltimore Man Fights Sentence and Wins by Proving System Mistake

It might be common for inmates to say that they were wrongly accused and wrongly convicted. In the case of Mr. P., however, he not only was telling the truth, but he proved the truth in court. A U.S. District Court judge recently concluded that the inmate was sentenced to too many years in prison due to a clerical error on his criminal record and shortened his prison sentence.

In 2006, Mr. P. was sentenced to nearly twenty years in prison for the illegal possession of a handgun. That conviction alone does not get a suspect so many years in prison, but a Maryland law called the Armed Career Criminal Act served to up Mr. P.'s sentence. The act says that if a felon has three other felony counts on his or her record, then 15 years should be added to his sentence.

Mr. P. admittedly does have a lengthy criminal background. According to sources, by the time he was in his mid twenties, Mr. P. already had been charged with "dozens of charges." The majority of those charges filed against him were ultimately dropped, including charges of assault and drug possession.

Unfortunately, that important fact regarding Mr. P.'s record went unnoticed by the legal system before he was convicted and sentenced for the weapons charge in 2006. The attorneys and judge only looked at the suspect's electronic criminal record and failed to look at the paper reports on file.

A clerical error within the electronic record listed a drug charge conviction on Mr. P.'s record that should not have been listed. That technical mistake meant drastic consequences for Mr. P. If he hadn't caught the error and fought as diligently as he did to prove that he was falsely sentenced, then he could have spent an unnecessary 14 extra years behind bars. By proving wrongdoing, Mr. P. has the opportunity to be released this year.

The Baltimore Sun: "Clerical error nearly keeps man 14 extra years in prison," Tricia Bishop, 12 Oct. 2010

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