Hundreds of defendants in drug cases in Harris County are receiving notifications from the District Attorney's Office informing them that the convictions are wrongful, and that they were convicted in error.
According to a recent report in the Houston Press, the letters were sent out between July and September of this year to hundreds of defendants, who accepted plead deals for charges related to drug offenses. These people had been charged with both misdemeanor and felony drug possession charges. However, those defendants have now been cleared after evidence provided by a crime lab analyst in the Houston Police Department.
The evidence came up negative for a controlled substance. It's bad enough that the defendants were put through the trauma of a wrongful conviction, but it now appears that things are actually even worse than believed. It appears that the prosecutors were informed that those test results came back negative at least several years ago, but defendants only began receiving notifications just a few months ago. Some of the cases date as far back as 2004. Meanwhile, the public defender's office is being besieged by hundreds of requests from defendants, who now want their records cleared.
It appears that in most of the cases, the negative reports came back months after the person had taken a plea deal. However, in some cases, the results came back negative even before the person was even offered and accepted a plea deal. In most of the cases, the convictions were the only ones on the individual's record, and remained on his record for years.
That means that over these years, these persons, especially those with a wrongful felony conviction on their record, had their life markedly changed by that wrongful conviction. Persons with a felony conviction on their record cannot apply for jobs in certain professions, like teaching or public service.