2021 | Courts

Appeals court rules prisoner was rightfully returned to prison after accidental release

Sentence recorded incorrectly, leading to early release

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A Maryland appeals court has ruled that Montgomery County did not err by forcing a man to finish his prison sentence after realizing he had accidentally been released early.

In 2012, a jury found Fonzie Agnew Jr. guilty of first-degree assault and the use of a handgun in the commission of a felony.

Agnew was sentenced to 25 years with five years suspended for the assault charge, but the sentence was incorrectly recorded as 25 years with all but five years suspended. He was also sentenced to five years on the handgun charge.

He was released from prison after serving five years and 326 days.

In April 2019, Agnew was charged with violating his probation. At the time, state officials realized his 2012 sentence had been entered incorrectly and filed a motion to recommit Agnew to serve the remainder of his intended sentence. The motion was approved in June 2019.

Agnew filed an appeal, alleging he was illegally sentenced. He argued that he should be given credit for time served for the time he was released on probation and that it “is not fair to him, his wife, and his two young children” to be returned to incarceration, according to the appeal.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals ruled this month that Agnew should not receive credit for the time served on probation when he was mistakenly released, and that nothing “even comes close to making his” recommitment illegal.

The appeals court emphasized that Agnew was not re-sentenced, and therefore the Montgomery County court was simply, legally, correcting a mistake by returning him to prison.