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Yareli Sanchez

Other Female Exonerees from Texas
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On July 7, 2011, police in Houston, Texas arrested 20-year-old Yareli Sanchez for engaging in prostitution.

On August 8, 2011, Sanchez pled guilty in Harris County Criminal District Court to a misdemeanor charge of prostitution. She was sentenced to 10 days in the Harris County Jail.

In 2015, prosecutors in the human trafficking division of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office joined with an attorney for Sanchez to file a state petition for a writ of habeas corpus to set aside the conviction.

The petition said that Sanchez was 5 years old when her mother brought her to the U.S. from Mexico. Sanchez, in a sworn affidavit described her childhood with a mother worked at bars, came home drunk and had many boyfriends who some of who abused Sanchez sexually and physically.

Sanchez ran away from home at age 14 to live with a friend, but got kicked out when her friend’s mother learned she was a runaway. By that time, Sanchez had met a man named Carlos who invited her to live with him. Carlos was a pimp and had several women working as prostitutes and ultimately forced Sanchez to do so as well.

“If I refused to do what he asked, he would beat me,” Sanchez said in the affidavit. “He would take any money I made.”

At age 15, Sanchez became pregnant. When her son was born, he was put in the custody of the Texas Department of Child Protective Services and Sanchez was placed in a foster home. “I became tired of being placed with family after family after being separated from my son,” Sanchez said. “I ran away when I was 17.”

She said she returned to her old circle of friends and ran into Carlos, who forced her to return to work for him. “Carlos made me work for him,” she said. “I did not have a home and I was desperate. I also was afraid that he would hurt me if I did not work for him.”

Sanchez said that in 2011 when she was arrested, she felt she had no choice but to plead guilty.

The petition filed on Sanchez’s behalf said that Sanchez’s attorney never told her that she could raise a defense of duress because Carlos forced her to work as a prostitute. “Had the State been aware that (Sanchez) was the victim of compelled prostitution, the State would not have prosecuted (Sanchez),” the petition said.

The petition was granted on December 30, 2015 and Sanchez’s conviction was vacated. The prosecution then dismissed the charge.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 7/8/2016
State:Texas
County:Harris
Most Serious Crime:Solicitation
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2011
Convicted:2011
Exonerated:2015
Sentence:10 days
Race:Hispanic
Sex:Female
Age at the date of crime:20
Contributing Factors:Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No