LITTLE ROCK — A convicted felon who left Arkansas while waiting for bed space to open up in prison cannot be charged with escape, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

LITTLE ROCK — A convicted felon who left Arkansas while waiting for bed space to open up in prison cannot be charged with escape, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The court overturned Ronald Wayne Magness’ escape conviction and dismissed the charge, saying the charge was improperly filed because Magness was not in custody when he fled the state.

Magness was convicted of two nonviolent felony offenses in Drew County Circuit Court in March 2010.

Because no bed space was available in the state prison system, he was released under certain conditions, which included contacting the sheriff’s office and his bondsman every week and not leaving the state without written permission from the sheriff.

Magness fled the state in April 2010 and was apprehended in Colorado. He later was convicted of second-degree escape and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

He appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court, arguing that the state did not show that he had escaped “from custody,” as state law requires. The state argued that Magness was in “constructive custody” when he fled.

The high court said in its opinion Thursday that it has never before ruled on whether a person who has been convicted and is awaiting prison space is in custody, but it has ruled that a defendant released on bond while awaiting trial is not in custody.

Magness was issued a bond before he was convicted, but the evidence indicated he was still “on bond” when he fled after his conviction, the court said.

“Appellant was released on bond and not in custody of the law-enforcement officers. Thus, although he violated the conditions of the order allowing his release, he did not escape from custody,” Justice Karen Baker wrote in the court’s unanimous opinion.