The justice system is, unfortunately, often stacked against defendants. A person’s situation becomes even worse when they are represented by a criminal defense lawyer that is overburdened, or does not have the experience or knowledge to effectively defend the case. In addition to inexperienced lawyers, a lack of funding and other resources only compounds the problem for defendants, and often results in a wrongful conviction. Below are the most common causes of wrongful convictions, and how an appellate lawyer can help if you or someone you love has been wrongfully convicted.
Mistaken Witness Identity
The single greatest cause of wrongful convictions around the country is mistaken witness identity. Mistaken witness identity is the cause of a shocking 72% of convictions that have been overturned after thorough DNA testing. It has been proven over the last few decades that identification of a defendant by an eyewitness is usually unreliable. A person’s mind does not always remember events exactly as they saw them, and recalling what occurred is sometimes difficult. Eyewitness testimony can be useful, but only when it is carefully preserved and methodically retrieved, just like other types of evidence.
In approximately 30% of cases that were exonerated based on DNA evidence, innocent defendants gave false confessions, made incriminating statements, or pleaded guilty. Confessions are not always given because the defendant is actually guilty. Sometimes outside influences, such as pressure tactics from law enforcement, are the reason why a person confesses to a crime they did not commit.
Informants often testify against defendants, but they do not always do it for the right reasons. Law enforcement and other government agencies often incentivize informants to testify, and those reasons are not always disclosed to juries. As a result, perjury leads to a wrongful conviction.
Misconduct by Officials
Some wrongful convictions occur because of an honest error. In other cases though, prosecutors and law enforcement agencies are more focused on securing a conviction than they are fulfilling their obligations, such as charging and convicting the right person. Fraud, negligence, and other misconduct on the part of these officials can easily result in a wrongful conviction. Although the majority of prosecutors and police officers perform their work with integrity, those that do not can negatively affect a person’s life.
False Forensic Evidence
DNA analysis has been helping prevent wrongful convictions for over 40 years, but its development only came after extensive scientific research was done. Other forensic techniques, such as shoe print comparisons and hair microscopy, have not been put through the same rigorous scientific analysis. Even when a forensic technique, such as serology, has been vigorously evaluated, it is not always conducted properly or conveyed accurately at trial.
Our Appellate Lawyers Can Help With Your Wrongful Conviction
If you or someone you love has been wrongfully convicted, our appellate attorneys at The Appellate Law Firm can determine what caused your conviction, and help get it overturned. Call us today at 877.412.4786 or contact us online to schedule a free phone consultation with one of our seasoned attorneys.