US v. Shelby Petties, No. 21-4332 (4th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
The appeal turns on a plea agreement between Defendant and the government. In that agreement, the government promised to dismiss two of the three counts on which Defendant had been indicted. In exchange, Defendant agreed to plead guilty to the remaining count: committing a crime of violence – kidnapping – while having failed to register as a sex offender. But under the parties’ conditional plea agreement, Defendant expressly reserved the right to appeal his conviction on the ground that kidnapping is not categorically a crime of violence. Defendant did appeal, and the government conceded that under intervening precedent, he was correct.
The Fourth Circuit, therefore, vacated the judgment against Defendant and remanded to the district court. The district court then entered the decision at issue on appeal: Over Defendant’s objection, the court allowed the government to proceed against Defendant on one of the charges previously dismissed under the plea agreement, for failure to register as a sex offender.
On appeal, Defendant challenges that decision and his resulting conviction, arguing that his plea agreement barred the government from pursuing the dismissed charges. Accordingly, the Fourth Circuit vacated Defendant’s conviction and sentence and remanded to the district court with instructions to order his release from federal custody. The court explained that the parties that Section 3296 is neither sufficient (the government) nor necessary (Defendant) to allow for prosecution on the dismissed charges after Defendant’s conviction was vacated on appeal; here, it is the plea agreement itself that controls. That is enough to dispose of this case.