Wed. Jan 26th, 2022

Many people are rightly scared of being involved in a criminal case. This is because of the complexities of the criminal justice system and the chance of conviction. A conviction can mark the beginning of many bad happenings. Not only does a criminal conviction rob the defendant of the chance to live freely and normally but it also puts them in a bad position when they get out.

Ex-convicts with an arrest and criminal record may find it hard to secure accommodation, employment, or even qualify for financial opportunities. With the odds stacked against them, the chances of survival, especially for people who have been wrongfully convicted and incarcerated dampens. Stroleny Law, P.A., a Miami criminal defense lawyer, takes a look at the common reasons responsible for wrongful convictions in the United States today.

Eyewitness Misinterpretation 

The court system depends on evidence to prove that a defendant is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. One of the greatest forms of evidence is an eyewitness account of the crime. However, the human mind is different in many ways and what is seen or perceived may be different from reality due to many factors. 

Eyewitness accounts are one of the single greatest causes of wrongful convictions in the United States. This factor accounts for as much as 72% of all wrongful convictions that have been overturned through the more concrete DNA testing method. Although the testimonies of eyewitnesses can be captivating and persuasive, they can also be false and a function of the eyewitness’ imaginations.

A research study conducted over 30 years proved that eyewitness identification of defendants is often unreliable and may lead to the wrongful convictions of others. The social science research further points out that the human mind doesn’t function like a tape recorder nor does it record events exactly as they happen. Instead, it takes bits and pieces of the information gathered and provides a “reasonable” or “logical” story around happenings. This, more than before, is an argument against eyewitness accounts and for stronger and more established indicators like DNA testing. 

False Confessions

False confessions are also another leading cause of wrongful convictions and incarcerations in the United States. Different people have different motivations and this may cause them to make false confessions to protect their interests. About 30% of innocent defendants who have been freed due to DNA exoneration were recorded to have been nailed by false confessions due to incriminating statements, guilty pleas, or delivery of outright confessions. 

The DNA exonerations point to the stress mounted on criminal defendants and how the stress of the entire process can cause them to admit guilt directly or indirectly, thus leading to their conviction.

Incorrect Forensics or Official Misconduct

DNA analysis has helped narrow down the number of people who have been falsely accused and convicted since its introduction and widespread adoption. However, this does not mean that there aren’t some cases where official misconduct and incorrect forensics may have put innocent individuals in prison.

DNA testing is based on the collection of biological materials which can be in the form of bite-mark comparisons, hair microscopy, saliva or bodily fluid analysis, shoe print comparisons, firearm tool mark analysis, etc. The process can be long and tasking and mishandling of evidence may sometimes result in wrongful convictions.

Official misconduct may also be in the form of honest mistakes that are bound to happen due to human errors. These mistakes may rob others of their chance to live freely and without a criminal record. Mistakes by prosecutors and law enforcement officials may be due to their blind focus on securing a conviction instead of performing their rightful obligations. Negligence, corruption, and misconduct within the criminal justice system can also be blamed for the increasing number of wrongful convictions.

While the factors above have contributed immensely to the increasing number of innocent convicts in prison today, other factors may also be responsible for innocent convictions. The use of informants by law enforcement officers is also a major cause of concern, especially as informants may offer biased information to eliminate their rivals or use the legal system as a tool to create an empire for themselves. The use of informants, although proven effective in some cases, has its drawbacks and this may lead to collateral damage in the form of wrongful convictions.

Inadequate defense is also a major factor leading to wrongful convictions. Criminal defendants who do not hire experienced defense attorneys are at risk of getting nailed for crimes they didn’t commit. To prevent such outcomes, defendants should select experienced and proven attorneys who specialize in the type of charges they are facing.

By Justin

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