Call for a FREE consultation at (713) 222-6767

Legal Blog

Texas “Junk Science” Law May Clear Some Defendants

Published: Sep 12, 2016 in Criminal Defense

Many criminal trials are based on some type of scientific evidence, but what happens when that science is later debunked? Scientific theories and conclusions are constantly changing. Texas legislators had this situation in mind when they drafted and approved SB 344 in 2013, known as the Texas Junk Science Law.

Texas SB 344 allows people currently imprisoned in Texas to challenge their convictions if they were based on “junk science.” If you were charged with a crime and evidence against you is questionable, contact Houston criminal defense attorney Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767 to find out how he can help.

Texas Fights Convictions Based on False Science

The Texas Junk Science Law actually amended the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure and expanded a prisoner’s right to apply for a writ of habeas corpus based on scientific evidence. A writ of habeas corpus is used to determine if a prisoner’s detainment is valid or whether the prisoner has the right to be released.

Art. 11.073 broadens when a person can file this type of petition. A prisoner can apply for a writ of habeas corpus if facts at the time of his or her application show:

  • Relevant scientific evidence that is currently available was not available at the time of his or her conviction because it was not ascertainable through reasonable diligence,
  • The current scientific evidence would be admissible under the Texas Rules of Evidence at a trial held on the application date, and
  • If the current scientific evidence had been presented at the original trial, based upon a preponderance of evidence the person would not have been convicted.

New Scientific Evidence Debunking Junk Science

The ability to apply for a writ of habeas corpus based on scientific evidence can be used by current prisoners in two ways. First, new types of scientific evidence that weren’t available at all when someone’s first trial took place can be provided to the court. Many people have heard of this type of situation. At one point in time, reliable DNA testing wasn’t available. When it became an option, it cleared many people who had been wrongfully convicted.

The second way to use this Texas law is to show through new scientific evidence or standards that the supposed scientific evidence used during the first trial wasn’t accurate, or it was “junk.” New, proven scientific methods can be used to demonstrate the inaccuracies of what was initially presented to the court as fact, but was wrong.

Wrongfully Convicted Prisoners Are Winning Their Freedom

The law has been put to good use since it was enacted. Multiple individuals have had their cases overturned and been released from prison, starting with a number of people who were falsely accused of Satanic ritual sexual abuse against children in the 1980s and 1990s.

Prior to the law, even when it was clear new scientific evidence could prove someone’s innocence, it was still difficult to obtain a writ of habeas corpus. Now wrongfully convicted individuals in Texas have the ability to head back to court and a better chance of receiving a new trial.

Contact Ned Barnett Today

If you were wrongfully convicted and there is now scientific evidence to prove your innocence, do not wait another day. Call The Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767. Ned Barnett has more than 30 years of experience. He started as a prosecutor, and then dedicated himself to defending people accused of crimes. He believes in aggressively fighting to uphold his client’s Constitutional rights, including the right of a writ of habeas corpus.