3 Common Reasons People Are Exonerated For Crimes They Did Not Commit
As much as we don’t want to admit it, New York’s criminal justice system isn’t perfect — sometimes imprisoning innocent individuals for crimes they did not commit. Fortunately, however, some victims are eventually set free once the reasons that led to their wrongful convictions are discovered, although many may spend years or decades behind bars before this happens.
While there are several reasons why a court may overturn the wrongful conviction of an individual, some of the more common reasons for such exonerations include:
- Newly discovered/tested DNA evidence: Even though DNA-related exonerations are still relatively rare, they are increasing in frequency as testing methods improve. In some cases, DNA evidence not only exonerates an individual from any wrongdoing, but it can sometimes prove that supposedly reliable eyewitness testimony was just plain wrong. DNA evidence can also uncover instances of official misconduct — which brings us to the next point.
- Newly discovered evidence of official misconduct: Sadly, official misconduct by police officers, prosecutors and other government agents is one of the most common reasons why individuals are wrongfully convicted. Regardless of whether the misconduct involves the withholding of evidence, coercing false confessions, lying to jurors or engaging in any other fraudulent behavior, wrongfully convicted individuals deserve to be freed from prison. If the misconduct involves a systemic or concerted pattern of behavior on the part of one or several police officers, there may even be a “group exoneration” of multiple individuals.
- Newly discovered facts indicating the conviction was based on false or misleading evidence: There have been many documented cases in which individuals were freed after it was discovered that the evidence used to convict them was unreliable or improperly tested — or not even tested at all. Similar to instances of systemic police misconduct, there have been group exonerations involving situations in which labs made widespread, repeated mistakes.
We may never know just how many people are sitting in prison for crimes they did not commit. Sadly, some may never be set free despite their innocence. However, those that are able to prove they were victims of wrongful convictions may be entitled to financial compensation under New York law.
Discuss Your Legal Options With A Wrongful Conviction Attorney Today
If you were wrongfully convicted and wish to find out if financial compensation may be an option for you, contact Edelman & Edelman, P.C., today. Not only do our lawyers have extensive experience with New York wrongful conviction law, but they have helped victims collect millions of dollars for the time they unjustly spent behind bars. Simply put, we are one of the preeminent wrongful conviction recovery law firms in New York.