On January 21, 2014, IPTX’s 51-year-old client (who wishes to remain anonymous) was stopped for a traffic violation in Dallas, Texas and arrested on an outstanding warrant for failing to register as a sex offender based on a 1981 conviction for rape of a child under the age of 17.
Our Client had previously registered as a sex offender, but he subsequently moved. When he failed to re-register, an arrest warrant had been issued.
On March 25, 2014, our client pled guilty in Dallas County Criminal District Court and was sentenced to 180 days in jail. After getting credit for time served, he was released on April 21, 2014.
Subsequently, the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office conviction integrity unit discovered that our client was not required to register as a sex offender. He had pled guilty to the rape charge in 1981 and had been sentenced to 5 years probation.
However, in April 1986, when his probation was terminated satisfactorily, the judge overseeing the case entered an order saying that the “judgment of conviction is hereby set aside, the indictment is dismissed, and the defendant is discharged from said probation, and the defendant is hereby released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the judgment of conviction in this case.”
Cynthia Garza, the head of the conviction integrity unit, concluded that the judge’s order meant that our client no longer had a conviction on his record, and therefore was not required to register as a convicted sex offender. Garza notified the Innocence Project of Texas, which began to represent him.
In May 2018, our client’s attorney, Gary Udashen, filed a state law petition for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of our client contending that he was not required to register as a sex offender. The petition said that the judge’s order was a form of “judicial clemency” that erased the conviction and therefore, our client was not required to register as a sex offender.
In August 2018, the prosecution joined with Udashen in a joint motion requesting the trial court recommend that the conviction be vacated.
On August 13, Dallas County Criminal District Judge Tammy Kemp signed an order recommending that the writ be granted. On September 26, 2018, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted the writ and vacated the conviction.
On October 25, 2018, the prosecution dismissed the charge.