In 1992, Simon Angel Rivera was convicted as a juvenile of sexually assaulting a child when he was a 14 years old. On September 15, 2002, Rivera, 24, was arrested in Austin, Texas on charges of failing to register as a sex offender.
On December 16, 2002, Rivera pleaded guilty in Travis County Criminal District Court and was sentenced to two years in prison.
After he was released on February 20, 2004, he filed a state petition for a writ of habeas corpus seeking to set aside his conviction, contending that his attorney had provided inadequate legal defense.
Rivera argued that his lawyer had advised him to plead guilty based on an incorrect understanding of the facts and law applicable to his case. Rivera claimed that at the time when he was charged with failing to register as a sex offender he was no longer required to do so because his juvenile status at the time of his conviction. The law did not require defendants convicted as juveniles to register after the age of 21.
After a hearing in the trial court, the prosecution agreed that Rivera was correct and recommended the writ be granted, and it was.
On January 26, 2005, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals upheld the granting of the writ and vacated Rivera’s conviction. The charges were dismissed by the Travis County District Attorney’s Office on March 11, 2005.
In September 2007, the state of Texas awarded Rivera $40,000 in compensation for his wrongful imprisonment.
– Maurice Possley