While most would likely agree that our justice system is better than many found in other countries, it is far from perfect. This is demonstrated in the all too frequent convictions of individuals in the Orlando area and beyond, who are actually innocent. Though these convictions occur related to a variety of types of crimes and circumstances, a recent study indicates there are similarities found in most wrongful convictions.
The study, which was administered by the Washington Institute for Public and International Affairs Research at American University, uncovered 10 factors often found in situations where someone is wrongfully convicted. It focused on the erroneous convictions, or almost convictions, of violent crimes allegedly committed throughout the nation by 460 individuals. The study looked at data from a span of 32 years.
An error in the way in which the evidence is handled is one of the factors commonly found. A second factor is evidence being withheld by the prosecution. Next, the strength of both the prosecution as well as the defense’s case has a bearing on the outcome being a wrongful conviction.
Lying on the part of both eye-witnesses and other witnesses are other factors, as are things related to the defendant in the case, such as any preexisting record he or she may have and his or her age. Another factor commonly seen was testimony given by family members of the accused.
It is likely not a coincidence that many of the factors identified have something to do with witness testimony or physical evidence. These are the basis of any case and it is important both are handled correctly. Working with a criminal defense lawyer who routinely handles cases that go to trial is perhaps the best way to make sure they are handled the way they need to be.
Source: Legal Times, “Study Reveal 10 Factors Common in Wrongful Convictions,” Mounira Al Hmoud, March 12, 2013