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State Counsel for Offenders

Legal Services Section

Attorneys and Legal Assistants in this section assist indigent offenders with a variety of legal issues, problems, and questions.

Immigration Issues

Removal Proceedings - The removal (deportation) process begins when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, issues and files a detainer against an offender based upon an investigation. If the investigation supports removal, then a charging document called a Notice to Appear (NTA) is issued, stating the reason(s) for removal and the law in support of it. An attorney will attempt to interview the offender prior to the first court appearance to explain the process and determine if there is relief against removal. The offender may decide to accept a removal order, proceed to hearing, or ask the court for a continuance. An SCFO attorney may represent an offender who has relief against removal, if there is cooperation and support from the family.

Stipulation/Waiver Program - State Jail Confinees who express a desire to waive appearance in Immigration Court and stipulate to removal upon release from custody are counseled by SCFO attorneys before executing the documents that will essentially result in their removal from the United States.

Civil Commitment Issues

Biennial Reviews and Petitions for Release - Attorneys and legal assistants monitor those clients who are under a civil commitment order and reside in a contracted facility. Attorneys, legal assistants, and investigators may prepare cases that have been set for biennial review and petition for release hearings. Hearings will be handled by the Civil Defense section with assistance by the Legal Services section.

Time Related Issues

Time Questions - Claims of jail time not being credited to an offender's sentence will be investigated. Information or assistance also can be given in reference to flat time, good time, educational time, and work time credit. Additionally, information or assistance may be provided on the SAFP-TF program, Prison Management Act (PMA), and State Jail Convictions.

Parole and Mandatory Supervision - Assistance may be given to offenders with parole and mandatory supervision eligibility questions.

Shock Probation and Time Cuts - Forms and directions may be provided to offenders who want to apply for shock probation or a time-cut.

Time Writs - Time issues will sometimes require an application for a writ of habeas corpus when the issue cannot be resolved at the local court level. The attorney will research the case to determine whether there are valid, provable legal reasons to file an application on these issues.

Other Issues

Prisoner Exchange Program - An offender may request to participate in this program if his country of origin signed a treaty with the United States. If granted by the State of Texas, the offender will be allowed to serve the remainder of his sentence in his home country.

Petitions for Discretionary Review - In some situations, an attorney may assist offenders in filing a Petition for Discretionary Review (PDR) of a Court of Appeals decision, affirming their conviction. This office must receive notice of the decision within thirty (30) days of the date of the opinion in order for this to be done.

Pending Charges and Detainers - Attorneys can provide information or assistance with pending charges problems and state detainers, out-of-state detainers, federal detainers, or county detainers.

Probation Revocation Waiver Program - Attorneys can assist offenders who wish to have outstanding probation cases revoked while they are serving their state prison sentences.

Nunc Pro Tunc - Motions may be prepared and filed to correct mistakes contained in judgments of conviction, usually related to jail time credit, improper affirmative findings of a deadly weapon, or a mistake in the degree of felony conviction.

Administrative Proceedings or Other Legal Issues - Assistance can also be provided for other legal issues such as power of attorney, family law matters, unsworn declarations, and expunctions.