A wrongful conviction means you may spend years behind bars for a crime you didn’t commit. The justice system is not perfect.
According to the Equal Justice Initiative, more innocent people are in our prisons today than ever. Since 1989, the group says there have been 3,175 exonerations, absolving someone from blame through more reliable evidence.
Court-appointed lawyers and a failure to investigate have landed thousands of people in jail. If the fault is determined to be that of the system and the prisoner is innocent, there is often a slow response to seek and pay restitution.
At the same time, the privatization of prisons, a $4 billion-a-year industry, makes it even less likely that the system will try to improve the incarceration rate.
The U.S. remains number one in the world in incarcerating its citizens. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the prison population in the U.S. increased 700 percent since 1970 to 2.3 million in 2016.
Causes of Wrongful Convictions
News reports have focused on wrongful convictions that might have affected more than 1,000 Alabama cases.
Some of the causes of wrongful convictions include:
- A Mistaken Witness ID – We know eyewitness testimony is unreliable, but it plays a role in 72% of convictions, according to a Western Michigan University Sociology study. We know that from the DNA evidence that later exonerated the prisoner.
- A False Confession – An individual may make a confession to a trial court, but how do we know that it’s accurate? DNA evidence exonerates those convicted due to a false confession in about one-third of cases.
- False Forensic Evidence – Rigorous scientific evaluation has never been applied to forensic evidence. Hair microscopy, firearm analysis, shoe print, and bite mark comparisons, for example, have not undergone fine-tuning like the science of DNA. At the same time, some forensics, such as blood typing, are improperly conducted or presented at trial.
- Perjury – DNA testing has found that 18% of convictions were overturned after an informant or someone with an incentive to testify committed perjury or lied to the jury, often convicting an innocent person.
- Official Misconduct – While most professionals are honest, there are prosecutors and law enforcement officers who make a conviction their sole focus. Whether negligence, fraud, or misconduct, DNA evidence has shed light on the fact that some of the people hired to uphold the law actually may do the opposite.
Besides incompetence, being poor will count against you in a court of law, especially if you rely on the justice system’s resources. An overburdened court-appointed defense lawyer, a failure to work up a case or to call witnesses has led to innocent people going to prison.
If you are black and poor, you may be the target of a hate crime within the system. Reports of police officers planting incriminating evidence on young black suspects have been found to be a part of a neo-confederate group that advocated Black Americans return to Africa.
Your Alabama Criminal Defense Attorney
Criminal defense attorney Jason Darley focuses on criminal defense in the Mobile, Alabama, area. Whether a DUI, drug or violent crime, assault or theft, and domestic violence, Mr. Darley has the experience to uncover whether the evidence in your case might have been planted and whether eyewitnesses have identified you as the perpetrator of a crime.
If you have been charged with a crime you did not commit, he will work to make sure your rights are not violated.
We frequently find that evidence that allegedly proves your guilt was mistakenly handled in an unbroken chain of custody. In that case, Mr. Darley may have the proof disqualified.
A search could have been mishandled on the scene violating restrictions in the warrant. A field sobriety test is often less than accurate. If it was conducted by an officer who was not objective at the time, a field sobriety test might not be a reliable standard to determine if you are driving DUI.
It is essential to contact Mr. Darley right away to explore the evidence and your innocence. He can be reached at this Mobile office at (251) 441-7772 to offer you the best opportunity to avoid a wrongful conviction.
Western Michigan University
Equal Justice Initiative