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ANTONIO CLAYTON v. STATE OF MARYLAND

Criminal procedure — Illegal sentence — Probation violation

In 2016, Antonio Clayton pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and was sentenced by the Circuit Court for Baltimore City to ten years’ imprisonment, with all but time served suspended, and placed on supervisory probation for a three-year term. While on probation, Mr. Clayton was arrested and charged with possession with intent to distribute heroin, conspiracy to possess heroin with the intent to distribute, and possession of heroin. The charges arose after the police recovered 276 “gel caps of heroin” from the center console of a vehicle parked, with Mr. Clayton sitting in the driver’s seat, in an area known by the police to be an “open drug marketing area.” Although the criminal charges were ultimately nol prossed, the State sought to revoke Mr. Clayton’s probation based on the same arrest. At a contested violation of probation hearing on January 16, 2018, a Baltimore City police officer testified that he had observed the CDS recovered from Mr. Clayton’s vehicle in plain view. The circuit court found the officer’s testimony credible and concluded that Mr. Clayton had violated the conditions of probation that required him to obey all laws and to abstain from illegal possession of a narcotic drug or controlled substance. The court terminated his probation and ordered him to serve four years of his previously suspended sentence (with 179 days credit for time served). Mr. Clayton filed an application for leave to appeal, in which he argues that the court violated the Justice Reinvestment Act when it ordered him to serve more than fifteen days for the probation violation. We ordered the State to respond, and after considering both filings, we …

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