Long Island Wrongful Conviction Attorney
There is nothing worse than knowing someone is innocent while sitting in prison. Not only does this negatively impact the person in prison, it negatively impacts their family, the victim and the community. The family loses a loved one. The victim is prevented from receiving proper justice. The community is less safe as the true perpetrator is not behind bars. The person in prison is irreparably damaged by the unjustified and avoidable time away from loved ones and experiences.
What is a Wrongful Conviction?
The legal definition of a wrongful conviction is simple: someone who is innocent is, nevertheless, convicted by a judge or jury of a crime. The time a person erroneously spends in prison is irreplaceable. If this has happened to you, you may be able to obtain some remuneration and justice with the right team of experienced criminal defense attorneys on your side.
What Causes Wrongful Convictions?
This question is extremely complicated. There are unique causes of wrongful convictions but a great many can be traced back to a few common causes.
First, eyewitness testimony is the most inaccurate of all evidence presented in court. Extensive research shows that the human mind is not reliable to record and recall events. Accuracy in the human memory is far from perfect. It should then be no surprise that a misidentification by an eyewitness is the most common cause of wrongful convictions.
Additionally, many people have pointed to DNA evidence as changing the science behind criminal convictions. While it is true that DNA evidence helps ensure accuracy in convictions, there is still junk science that is allowed in courtrooms. What is junk science? It is forensic testing methods that have little science backing it up. These are untested and unproven methods exhibited by the prosecution as trustworthy and widely accepted science. If convincing, the jury may believe this junk science and rely on the misinformation to render a verdict of guilty.
Another common cause of wrongful convictions is improper legal representation. Because many attorneys are overworked and handling too many cases, they are often unable to focus on any particular case. This creates a scenario where important details fall through the cracks. Maybe the attorney failed to investigate a lead or did not speak with all of the witnesses as thoroughly as required. Perhaps the lawyer did not even have enough time to adequately prepare for trial. Regardless of the reasons, bad lawyering is a common cause of wrongful convictions.
The vast majority of police and prosecutors are honest, reliable and trustworthy. However, there are some exceptions. Sometimes even the police or the prosecutor engage in misconduct. There is immense pressure on police to find the person responsible for a crime. There is also immense pressure on the prosecutor to secure a conviction. This pressure can lead to a situation where the police, the prosecutor, or both, engage in misconduct. The misconduct can take many forms such as withholding evidence, utilizing coercive interrogation techniques or even threatening witnesses.
One more tactic used by police is intense interrogation techniques. This creates an unnerving and uncomfortable situation for the individual being questioned. When people are in such situations, all they want to do is escape. After several hours of intense interrogation, being yelled at and being told you are guilty of a crime, people can, and do, break. They start to believe they committed the crime and may admit guilt.
What Are Your Options When Wrongfully Convicted?
There have been many reports over the last decade about actions that can be taken to reduce the number of wrongful convictions. A recent report from the Innocence Project identified tunnel vision and investigators jumping to conclusions as leading causes of wrongful convictions. The investigators simply make the evidence fit the person in their scope. This reduces the chance the police will investigate other potential offenders and further reduces the weight they will give to interrogations of any other offenders. They will not be objective in reviewing additional evidence. In other words, they already have their suspect and are not looking elsewhere.
In another study, the Brookings Institute concluded that plea deals lead to an extremely high amount of wrongful convictions. But wait, wouldn’t the person have to plead guilty to enter a plea deal? If they were innocent, why would they plead guilty? Intense interrogation techniques can make people plead guilty to a crime they did not commit. In an effort to escape an unpleasant situation or to avoid a much longer prison sentence, people will admit to a crime they did not commit.
It is crucial to enlist the services of an attorney experienced in defending people wrongfully convicted of crimes, A capable appeals attorney can go through your complete record to determine what mistakes were made. This includes reviewing pre-trial motions, pleadings, and memoranda, the evidence at trial, witness testimonies as well as any records on appeal to determine whether there was misconduct by police or prosecutors at any stage of the process. If this was the case, or if there was a mistake of law, you may have grounds to re-open your case.
So what does this all mean for you? If you have been wrongfully convicted of a crime, our team of professionals can help to change the way the system works and prevent other people from having to endure such hardship.
Contact A Long Island and New York City Wrongful Convictionon Attorney
At Barket Epstein, our team is comprised of former prosecutors, legal aid attorneys and criminal court judges. We are available to discuss your rights and execute a plan to help you obtain justice. Contact us today to discuss your case with one of our criminal defense attorneys.