What are my Rights if I Have Been Wrongfully Convicted?
According to statistics, about 2000 people were exonerated between 1989 and 2017. Many of these people were wrongly charged with everything ranging from murder to non-violent crimes. Moreover, African Americans are the most affected group when it comes to incorrect sentencing, and they spend about 3 or more years in jail compared to their Caucasian counterparts.
People who have been wrongfully sentenced have to endure the agony of loss of freedom, life in prison and the thoughts of what could have been. Moreover, they are robbed of the years they could have spent with their families and friends or establish themselves financially. Unsurprisingly, the agony does not end after they are released. With no job, housing, transport, or health insurance and with a criminal record that cannot be cleaned even after innocence has been proven, these victims continue to suffer for years.
Therefore, if you or a loved one has been through this nightmare, a wrongful conviction lawyer in New York will be able to assist you in getting the justice that you deserve. An attorney there can help overturn an incorrect sentencing for all types of crimes such as assault, homicide, vehicular crimes, and theft crimes among others. Victims who were sentenced to prison for a crime they did not do can receive compensation for mental health treatment, job placement and education among others. There are many reasons why people are incorrectly incarcerated but one major factor is systemic racism. Other reasons may include:
Misidentification by eyewitnesses
This is a major cause and can be caused by some factors such as suggestive line-up procedures and poor lighting.
Incorrect forensic science
Forensic science testimonies are usually very compelling. However, sometimes the science is not used to back up the statements and the consequences are usually tragic. For instance, there are many sentences that were based on bite marks, hairs and fibres which have been overturned because the science used was inaccurate. DNA is a great tool that is used in solving crimes. However, it can be unreliable if mistakes were made in the lab, there was tampering of evidence, or the DNA was collected from the wrong person.
Some defendants may be subjected to coercive interrogation and make false confessions. The coercion can be in the form of false promises and threats to the suspect and their family members. Others may have been suffering from poor mental health when they confessed. Other individuals make false testimonies after entering plea deals to save themselves. Some defendants end up serving for years or life in prison after confessing to something they did not do.
Some law enforcement organisations sometimes gain access to evidence that can be used to free the defendant but may withhold it despite having an obligation to hand it to the defence. Illegally suppressing evidence can make an innocent person spend years behind bars.
Sometimes incriminating evidence is planted at a crime scene to frame someone for something they did not do. Sometimes some police officers may even completely fabricate evidence. Even though these are very serious offences, sometimes it is enough to mislead and persuade the jury to rule against the accused.
People who were sentenced to prison for crimes they did not do should reach out to professional attorneys who can help them get fair compensation. With adequate compensation, they can try to move on and repair their lives. Great attorneys will review evidence, interview witnesses, and depose other individuals who can share what transpired on that day. All of this will be used as evidence to prove your innocence, secure your freedom, and get the compensation you deserve for incorrect sentencing.