WIN A TEXAS WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS – A TOP APPEALS LAWYER EXPLAINS

A successful writ of habeas corpus in Texas can overturn a conviction or reduce a sentence. Read more to learn how Spolin Law P.C.’s fights for you and works to overturn your conviction.

Table of Contents:

  1. Winning a Texas Writ of Habeas Corpus
  2. Elements of the Writ
  3. Federal Writs vs. Texas State Writs
  4. Arguments that Can Overturn a Conviction
  5. Finding a Successful Criminal Writs Attorney
Aaron Spolin

Former prosecutor Aaron Spolin leads Spolin Law P.C., which handles Texas state and federal cases. Mr. Spolin has been on the winning side of hundreds of criminal cases.

Winning a Texas Writ of Habeas Corpus

In this article, former prosecutor and award-winning criminal appeals attorney Aaron Spolin explains how to win a Writ of Habeas Corpus. Some steps that Spolin Law P.C. takes in Habeas Corpus cases include:

  • Find Errors Where Clients’ Rights Were Violated
    When a criminal defendant’s rights are violated in his or her case, there may be a basis to challenge the conviction or reduce the sentence. The appeals attorneys at Spolin Law P.C. are aware of literally hundreds of arguments that can go into a Writ of Habeas Corpus and result in an overturned conviction or reduced sentence.
  • Argue U.S. Constitutional Law and Texas Law
    Both Texas law and U.S. Constitutional law can provide a basis for challenging a criminal conviction. In order to increase a client’s chance of success, we prefer to raise all issues with a basis in state or federal law. Additionally, by raising federal issues in Texas writs, there is a higher likelihood that a later federal Writ of Habeas Corpus can result in a successful outcome in federal court.
  • Describe Innocence of Client, When Applicable
    According to academic research, approximately 2,000 people are wrongfully convicted every year in the United States. A Writ of Habeas Corpus is one of the primary ways of obtaining a client’s freedom based on his or her actual innocence. Actual innocence Writs of Habeas Corpus can include witness statements, affidavits, and other external evidence that shows how the client has been wrongfully convicted.
  • Fight for Client’s Release from Prison
    Spolin Law P.C. has one goal when filing a Writ of Habeas Corpus for a client: obtain his or her release from prison as quickly as possible. A court hearing a Writ of Habeas Corpus has the authority to schedule a new trial, modify the sentence given by the prior court, and even order the immediate release of a prisoner who is wrongfully confined.

You may be eligible for release, a sentence modification, or a new trial. To learn about whether a Writ of Habeas Corpus can help you or a loved one, contact Spolin Law P.C. at (866)-716-2805 for a free consultation.

Elements of the Habeas Corpus Writ

A Writ of Habeas Corpus (Latin for “that you have the body”) may be filed on behalf of a person who is unlawfully imprisoned. The purpose of a Writ of Habeas Corpus is for the court to determine whether it has lawfully convicted and sentenced a person.

In a writ of habeas corpus, a defendant seeks to establish that his or her prison sentence is illegal. This can be done by two ways. First, a person may claim that the entirety of the confinement is unlawful- this means that the person was unlawfully convicted of a crime. Second, a person may claim that the length of confinement is unlawful- this means that the prison sentence is too long.

Pretrial and Posttrial Writs of Habeas Corpus

There are generally two types of writs of habeas corpus. Pretrial writs of habeas corpus may be used to challenge bail conditions or to raise issues that may prevent the trial from continuing. Some examples of when a pretrial writ may be sought are:
1. A pretrial writ may be used to challenge whether a statute is unconstitutionally vague.
2. A pretrial writ may be used for claims of double jeopardy.
3. A pretrial writ may be used to address issues in the grand jury process..

Posttrial writs generally seek to void a conviction, or to reduce a prison term. Generally, a posttrial writ of habeas corpus can only be filed once there is a final conviction. Thus, while a case is pending on appeal, a posttrial writ cannot be filed.

The Petition

The petition must establish that the applicant is being illegally confined. The Petition must include specific factual details and reference the constitutional guarantees that are being violated. The Court of Criminal Appeals has issued a form which must be used, and legal arguments may be made in a separate memorandum of law.
The Procedure for Filing a Petition

A petition is filed in the trial court. If the trial court concludes that “there are controverted, previously unresolved facts material to the legality of the applicant’s confinement,” Article 11.07(3)(c), the trial court may order the parties to submit evidence, and may hold a hearing on the issue. The trial court will then make findings of fact and conclusions of law, and submit those to the Court of Criminal Appeals, which will ultimately determine whether to award habeas relief.

Subsequent writs of habeas corpus

Generally, a convicted individual may only file 1 writ of habeas corpus. A second writ, called a “subsequent writ,” will usually not be considered by the court, unless one of the limited exceptions applies. One exception occurs when “the current claims and issues have not been and could not have been presented previously in an original application or in a previously considered application filed under this article because the factual or legal basis for the claim was unavailable on the date the applicant filed the previous application.” Texas Code of Criminal Procedure section 11.07(4)(a).

It is imperative for a defendant to include all potential arguments that are available in his or her first writ of habeas corpus.

  1. Winning a Texas Writ of Habeas Corpus
  2. Elements of the Writ
  3. Federal Writs vs. Texas State Writs
  4. Arguments that Can Overturn a Conviction
  5. Finding a Successful Criminal Writs Attorney

Federal Writs vs. Texas State Writs of Habeas Corpus

Inmates in Texas can generally file one Texas state Writ of Habeas Corpus and one federal Writ of Habeas Corpus. The table below explains the differences for inmates convicted in Texas state courts.

Texas State Writ of Habeas Corpus

Applicable Arguments:

Rights violations that are outside the court record. (Example: trial lawyer was “ineffective.”)

Deadline:

Within a reasonable time after discovering the issue being challenged.

Federal Writ of Habeas Corpus

Applicable Arguments

Rights violations based on the U.S. Constitution

Deadline

One year after losing case in Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

Generally speaking, state writs are about external evidence that is not in the trial record, while federal writs are about violations of federal law.

A Federal Writ of Habeas Corpus is the final avenue for review of issues that were denied in Texas state courts. A Federal Writ must allege that a federal right was violated. Due to the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 14th Amendments of the Constitution, most claims concern federal constitutional rights that were violated. For example, since there is a federal right to effective assistance of counsel, a claim for ineffective assistance of counsel may be raised in a Federal Writ of Habeas Corpus.

The Federal Court will usually reject a Federal Writ of Habeas Corpus if the Writ was not first filed and adjudicated in the State Court. The Federal Court will also usually reject a Writ of Habeas Corpus if the Court denied the Writ because of a procedural issue, such as if the defendant waited for too long to file the State Writ of Habeas Corpus.

Is There a Deadline to File your Writ of Habeas Corpus?

The deadline depends on the type of writ. Texas state writs have more generous deadlines, and in some cases writs can be filed years or decades after a conviction (especially for actual innocence arguments). Federal writs have much stricter deadlines and generally must be filed within one year after losing a properly-filed petition in the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

Texas State Writ of Habeas Corpus

Deadline:

Within a reasonable time after discovering the issue being challenged.

Federal Writ of Habeas Corpus

Deadline
One year after losing a properly-filed case in Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

There is no clear-cut deadline to file a Texas state writ of habeas corpus. It is advised, however, to file the writ as soon as possible. This is because if a defendant waits too long to file a writ, the Court may deny the writ due to “laches.” “Laches” is a legal term which essentially means it is unfair to a party (in this case the State) when another party (the defendant) waits too long to assert his or her rights.

In 2013, the Court of Criminal Appeals wrote: “We, however, also reaffirm that “we have no desire to impose upon defendants the requirement that claims for relief be asserted within a specified period of time,” but will continue to apply laches as a bar to relief when an applicant’s unreasonable delay has prejudiced the State, thereby rendering consideration of his claim inequitable.” Ex parte Perez, 398 S.W.3d 206, 212-14 (Tex.Crim.App.2013).

In that case, the Court stated some of the factors to be considered, “such as the length of the applicant’s delay in filing the application, the reasons for the delay, and the degree and type of prejudice resulting from the delay.” Id.

There is a second reason to not delay in filing a writ of habeas corpus. There is a relatively short deadline to file a federal writ of habeas corpus. To file a federal writ, a defendant must typically first file a state writ of habeas corpus. An undue delay in filing a state writ may preclude the possibility of a future federal writ.

Thus, while there is no firm deadline to file a Texas writ of habeas corpus, it is recommended that a Texas writ be filed as soon as practicable.

  1. Winning a Texas Writ of Habeas Corpus
  2. Elements of the Writ
  3. Federal Writs vs. Texas State Writs
  4. Arguments that Can Overturn a Conviction
  5. Finding a Successful Criminal Writs Attorney

Arguments that Can Overturn Convictions

A Writ of Habeas Corpus usually addresses claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, prosecutorial misconduct, newly discovered evidence, jury misconduct, and claims of actual innocence.

Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Ineffective assistance of counsel refers to when a trial attorney’s representation was so far below the professional standards lawyers must adhere to that what he or she did was “unreasonable,” and resulted in an unfavorable outcome. This includes acts not taken in the trial, or trial preparation, such as:

  • The attorney did not fully investigate the facts of the case.
  • The attorney did not call certain witnesses to testify.
  • The attorney did not hire an expert to testify.
  • The attorney did not present evidence of innocence.
  • The attorney provided incorrect legal advice, which was relied on by the client.
  • The attorney did not file a potentially valid motion to suppress evidence.

Prosecutorial Misconduct

Including, but not limited to, submitting false evidence, or withholding evidence.
The prosecution must provide exculpatory evidence to the defendant. This was established by the United States Supreme Court, in Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). In Brady, the Court held: “the suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to an accused upon request violates due process where the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment, irrespective of the good faith or bad faith of the prosecution.”

Newly Discovered Scientific Evidence

If scientific evidence was not available at trial and is now available, the Court must then determine whether, had the evidence been presented, the defendant would not have been convicted. One example of this is DNA evidence.

Newly Discovered Evidence

There is newly discovered evidence, upon which “no rational jury would convict the applicant in light of the new evidence.” Ex parte Tuley, 109 S.W.3d 388 (Tex. Crim. App. 2002). This sometimes occurs when there is a single key witness, who later recants his or her testimony, and the court is convinced that the recanting is truthful.

Actual Innocence

Claims of actual innocence may be submitted in a Writ of Habeas Corpus. Claims of actual innocence are often established with newly discovered scientific evidence, such as DNA evidence, as noted above.

Involuntary Plea

This occurs when a plea is coerced, or comes as a result of a failure of counsel to properly advise regarding the plea.

Jury Misconduct

A claim for jury misconduct must be based on a “reasonable belief that jury misconduct had occurred,” and cannot be “speculative, conclusory, vague, or unsupported.” People v. Cook (2015) 236 Cal.App.4th 341, 345-346. A claim for jury misconduct may be premised on:

There are certain arguments that may not be raised in a Texas writ of habeas corpus. Anything that could have been raised on appeal may not be raised in a writ. This includes a failure to challenge a search and seizure or to suppress a confession (though these may possibly be raised under the banner of ineffective assistance of counsel).

Generally, arguments concerning the sufficiency of the evidence to convict may also not be raised in a writ.

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Contact a lawyer at Spolin Law P.C to see which arguments might apply to your case. We can be reached at (866)-716-2805.

  1. Winning a Texas Writ of Habeas Corpus
  2. Elements of the Writ
  3. Federal Writs vs. Texas State Writs
  4. Arguments that Can Overturn a Conviction
  5. Finding a Successful Criminal Writs Attorney

How a Texas Writ of Habeas Corpus Lawyer Can Help

Submitting a successful Writ of Habeas Corpus requires skillful representation. Spolin Law P.C. is led by Aaron Spolin, a former prosecutor and award-winning criminal appeals lawyer. He is ranked in the top 100 trial lawyers in the country, and is recognized as one of the “Top 0.4% of law firms” in in the US by the American Association of Attorney Advocates.

Spolin Law P.C. forcefully fights for its clients by reviewing the trial record, and, when possible:

  • Identifying meritorious arguments that should have been raised by the trial attorney.
  • Identifying errors made by the trial attorney.
  • Conducting a full investigation to determine the actual innocence of the client.
  • Conducting a full investigation, to determine if any claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, prosecutorial misconduct, newly discovered evidence, jury misconduct, and claims of actual innocence are present
  • Arguing Texas Law and U.S. Constitution Law, based on Texas statutes and regulations, Texas case law, and United States constitutional law.

An excellent attorney can make a difference. The more thoroughly the attorney reviews the record, and considers the facts and issues that were both raised and not raised at trial, the more bases the attorney can find to support the Writ of Habeas Corpus. We investigate the entire trial and pre-trial record to find every legal basis to support your Writ of Habeas Corpus.

Spolin Law P.C.’s success rate is based on our strong desire to win each case we handle. Call us at (866)-716-2805, or reach out online to learn how we can handle your Texas or Federal Writ of Habeas Corpus.