Convicted criminals in Maryland could drastically reduce their federal prison sentences by getting state convictions dismissed, the Baltimore Sun reports. When state convictions disappear, so does eligibility for some of the harshest federal penalties, including mandatory life sentences. Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein plans to ask state prosecutors to fight these motions, known as writs of error coram nobis. In some plea agreements, prosecutors are requiring defendants to pledge that they won’t go back and try to change their criminal history before sentencing.
In one case, a man convinced a state judge to throw out guilty pleas for cocaine distribution. The judge said he was wrongly penalized when he was ordered to serve a year behind bars as a probation condition. That means the man may be able to avoid much of a 15 1/2-year federal term on a gun charge. Said federal public defender James Wyda: “To complain about challenging a prior unconstitutional conviction that now serves to double a federal sentence to me is to complain about too much justice.”