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Award–Winning Criminal Appeals Attorneys

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Texas Criminal Appeals Lawyers

Top Rated for Criminal Law

10 Best Attorney Client Satisfaction award 2018

Numerous magazines and publications have recognized Spolin & Dukes P.C. as one of the nation’s top firms for criminal law.

Numerous National Awards

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Lead attorney Aaron Spolin is nationally ranked by The National Trial Lawyers and has won numerous other advocacy awards.

Attorneys with Hundreds of Successful Outcomes

State Bar of Texas, Created in 1939

The attorneys at Spolin & Dukes P.C. have been on the winning side of hundreds of criminal cases and have litigated matters up to the United States Supreme Court.

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Cases We Handle

Spolin & Dukes P.C. and our Texas criminal appeal lawyers
are here to set things right through:

  • Criminal Appeals
  • Writs of Habeas Corpus
  • Escrito de Habeas Corpus
  • Post-Conviction Petitions
  • Commutation Applications
  • Reduction of Sentence (“Sentence Cut”)
  • Investigations
  • Federal Appeals
At Spolin & Dukes P.C., we fight to correct the errors that prosecutors, judges, or other individuals have made.

Appeal Errors in Your Case

It may be possible to appeal a conviction based on errors that occurred throughout the various court proceedings. A post-conviction lawyer can review the record for both intentional and unintentional errors and fight to reverse the decision.


Overturn an Unjust Conviction

Whether through actual innocence, self-defense, or a number of other circumstances, some convictions are unwarranted. A post-conviction lawyer can argue and advocate on your behalf to attempt to overturn your conviction or reduce your sentence.


Reduce an Unfair Sentence

There are a number of reasons why a sentence may be unfair, even if you are guilty of the crime. A post-conviction lawyer can determine which avenues of reducing a sentence you may qualify for and represent you throughout the process.

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Dedication to Successful Outcomes

Criminal law attorney Aaron Spolin has worked with clients to achieve successful outcomes in hundreds of criminal cases.

As a former prosecutor and current defense attorney, he has experience with both sides of misdemeanors and felonies. He has worked on cases from petty theft to murder. Aaron was the recipient of the American College of Trial Lawyers’ Medal for Excellence in Oral Advocacy, and he uses his skills to advocate for his clients in and out of the courtroom.

Attorney Spolin works to uphold the rights of the accused. He authored the Princeton thesis Reforms for the Process of Eyewitness Identifications in Criminal Trials, which discusses the leading causes of wrongful convictions in the United States. He has dedicated a large portion of his practice to working for those who have been convicted and deserve a second chance. He approaches every case with enthusiasm and compassion, making him a great ally in Texas’ harsh criminal justice system.

  • Former Assistant District Attorney
  • Princeton University, B.A., U.C. Berkeley School of Law, J.D.
  • Successful outcomes of hundreds of cases
Learn more about Spolin & Dukes P.C.

A fresh perspective for a new outcome

Our firm is entirely dedicated to appealing and overturning wrongful convictions across the county. Our criminal appeal lawyers are highly experienced and knowledgeable on the latest trends in criminal and appellant law. We search for the truth, find mistakes that were overlooked, and protect our clients from slipping through the cracks.

If you believe that you or a loved one have been unfairly convicted, reach out to Spolin & Dukes. Let us assess the circumstances, and counsel you on your next steps forward.
5 stars

“He is a brilliant courtroom tactician. I’ve seen Aaron Spolin in court on multiple occasions, and he is truly a master. Nothing gets past him, and he is a powerful advocate for his clients. He is probably one of the strongest examples of how a great lawyer can truly ‘speak truth to power’ in a courtroom.”

Tomer Konowiecki, L.A. Attorney

The Texas Criminal Appeal Process

Although society often relies on the criminal justice system, sometimes the system gets it wrong. The law may be misapplied or biases may cloud the judgment of the judge and jury. We believe that you have a right to challenge incorrect decisions through the appeals process. We work to overturn wrongful convictions, reverse unlawful incarcerations, and clear your record.

Stage 1: Notice of Appeal

This is the document that indicates you wish to file an appeal. It must be completed by the appellant or their legal representative. There are strict guidelines and deadlines that must be followed in order to successfully submit an appeal. A notice of appeal must be filed in Texas within 30 days of the signing of the final judgment, or within 90 days of the final judgment if a motion for a new trial is filed.

Stage 2: Transcript Preparation

You must also file a request and pay for the clerk’s and reporter’s records. Official transcripts will be compiled that document all evidence and testimony presented during your initial trial. You and your appeal lawyer can review these materials to determine if the original case progressed appropriately, if decisions were legally sound, and if there was any defect. It is important to work with an experienced appeal lawyer who is familiar with Texas criminal laws and court procedure because you will have to pinpoint problems in the original case.

Stage 3: Opening & Respondent’s Briefs

You may file a brief along with your notice of appeal or you may file a motion for an extension of time to file your brief. The brief will present a formal argument as to why your are entitled to an appeal. This will likely include an analysis of the trial court’s ruling, where a fault occurred, and the legal justification that supports your case. The prosecution or respondent in a criminal appeal will also have a chance to submit a brief. Their brief may refute that an error occurred, or state that if a mistake did happen, it did not influence the ultimate decision.

Stage 4: Reply Brief

In your original court case, the burden of proof was on the prosecution; however, upon appeal the burden of proof shifts to the defendant (you). Although the prosecution may refute that an error occurred in your case, you will have an opportunity to rebut that assertion. While you cannot present new evidence, you can point out inaccuracies in the prosecution’s statement and in the trial court’s decision. This is a hyper-technical process, best handled by an articulate lawyer.

Stage 5: Oral Arguments & Petition for Rehearing

While briefs are written and presented by both sides, criminal appeals may also involve oral arguments. If requested and granted by the appellate court, oral arguments will allow you to highlight the facts of the case, explain significant issues, and provide clarity to any questions. Your attorney should have an extensive background in making appellate arguments.
The appellate court will render a judgment and issue an opinion, and either party may petition for rehearing. The appellate court will rule on the motion for rehearing, and then a final judgment will be made.

Stage 6: Petition for Review

Although you may request a rehearing after a decision is made by the Court of Appeals, you also have the option to appeal to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. You must submit a Petition for Review, requesting that your case be chosen for consideration. If your petition is granted, the next step will be a separate “Brief on the Merits” in which you explain how and why the Court of Appeals disposition was incorrect.

What Is a Writ of Habeas Corpus?

A direct appeal challenges the court decision; whereas, a writ is a petition to enforce fundamental statutory rights as stated in the laws. The most common criminal writ is a writ of habeas corpus, which determines if an imprisonment or detention is lawful. This type of writ is meant to address barriers that keep a person unlawfully detained; however, it has limitations that are best addressed by an experienced appeals lawyer.

Types of Writs

Other Types of Writs

Writs are legal remedies that are powerful enough to force courts and public officials to act or stop action. They can even facilitate the immediate release of an inmate, order new trials and court proceedings, and correct fundamental errors in a case.

Common Writs are:

  • Writ of Habeas Corpus
  • Writ of Mandamus
  • Writ of Prohibition
  • Writ of Certiorari
  • Writ of Quo Warrant
  • Writ of Error Coram Nobis

Writ Deadlines

Important Writ Deadlines

There are time limits for filing writs which depend on whether the writ is statutory or a matter of common law (established by prior cases). Statutory writs are controlled by the statutes, or laws, that create them. Examples include writs to disqualify a judge or prosecutor or criminal dismissals. Each statute defines a deadline, and failure to file it in a timely manner may result in the court denying the petition. You may lose the right to have an important issue reviewed if you fail to meet the deadline.

Common law writs may be issued when courts believe remedies expressly stated by laws have failed. Although no absolute deadlines exist for most common law writs, the general rule is to file them no later than 60 days after giving notice that you are challenging an order. If there is unreasonable delay, a common law writ may be dismissed as well.

The Writ Process

Writs in Texas usually follow a multi-step process:

Step 1: Initial Writ Petition

– This is an official request for the court to review an issue. The facts and legal implications should be specifically stated in the writ petition. For example, in a habeas corpus petition, an inmate may ask the court to reconsider their sentence.

Step 2: Court Evaluation of the Petition

– The court will consider the petitioner’s argument. For example, in a habeas corpus matter, the court will determine if a sentence was fair and legally sound.

Step 3: Court’s “Order to Show Cause”

– If the court needs additional information to make a determination, it may issue an Order to Show Cause. The purpose is to justify, explain, or prove something to the court as a matter of law.

Step 4: Government’s Opposition & Petitioner’s Traverse

– Both sides of a case will be able to present written replies. The government will defend the original decision, and the petitioner can counter with their claims.

Step 5: Writ Hearing

– A court may hear oral arguments, where both sides can present evidence and argue the merits of the issues.

Step 6: Judge’s Decision

– The judge will make a determination based on the written documents and oral arguments that they have heard. A judge may grant relief through an official writ or deny it.

Texas Writ of Habeas Corpus

Areas Served

Spolin & Dukes P.C. serves clients across the nation.
California All state & federal cases
New York All state & federal cases
Texas All state & federal cases
Nationwide All federal appellate cases

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