Just how much can one clerical error cost? Well, for one man in Maryland, a simple error nearly cost him 14 years of his life. One entry into the state’s criminal records database meant the difference between 6 years and 20 years behind bars.
According to the Baltimore Sun, the man didn’t have a clean record when he faced federal weapons charges in 2006 but he didn’t have the kind of record that officials thought he did.
The problem arose when a charge he faced in 2000 was entered into the system as a conviction. It would have been his third felony distribution charge for the man and would have qualified him for a enhanced sentence for the federal weapons charge. And because that’s the way it was entered in the system, he was sentenced to 235 months in the federal prison system as opposed to the 77 he should’ve faced.
Under federal laws, the third conviction would have deemed him a career criminal, the type of person the courts want to keep off the streets. But this particular defendant knew he was right and knew he wasn’t convicted in the 2000 drug distribution case. So he fought.
He filed appeal after appeal and even petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear his case. They rejected him and Appeals Courts upheld the sentence. He finally petitioned to have his sentence corrected.
The burden was on the defendant to prove to the courts that he had never received that 2000 conviction despite what their computer system showed. He had the paperwork to back his claims and won. The defendant was recently resentenced in a rare case of a clerical error with nearly disastrous effects.
The Court’s skepticism for this man’s claims is no doubt based on hearing numerous baseless appeals every single year. And according to the Sun, the Maryland U.S. Attorney stated this was the first case that he had personally heard of where the information within the state clerk‘s records were incorrect.
When you face criminal charges, this is the exact kind of thing that can put undue stress on you. It’s bad enough to be looking at a lengthy prison sentence or even a few months in jail. But, when you have to worry about whether or not everyone involved in your case is doing their job, it becomes nearly unmanageable.
If you are facing criminal charges and in need of an advocate on your side, call our offices today. We will give you a free consultation on your case and some valuable legal advice.