Many convictions reflect the facts of the case in question. Yet, in rare circumstances, someone who did not commit the crime will end up serving time. Anywhere between 2% to 10% of convictions are false due to – among other reasons – forced confessions, prosecutorial misconduct, witness mistakes or inadequate representation. But some states reverse more wrongful convictions than others, and it’s important to know where Florida ranks among these.
Where Florida stands
Out of 143 exonerations in the United States in 2019, six happened in Florida. This figure puts it seventh out of 50 states – and Washington D.C. – for the number of wrongful convictions reversed during the year. Over 30 states offer compensation for wrongfully convicted individuals. While Florida is among these, many freed convicts have not received it. Not only does the state have a strict filing deadline, people with past felony convictions are ineligible for compensation. But barring past convictions, state law decrees that exonerated individuals qualify for compensation of $50,000 per year and up to $2 million total for their time spent in prison.
Overturning a wrongful conviction
Often, incarcerated individuals choose not to fight their conviction because the process is time-consuming and uncertain. Furthermore, the window for doing so is short. In general, Florida’s statute of limitations for appealing a conviction is 30 days after the initial ruling. Yet, the convicted can file a writ if an appeal is no longer viable or was denied in the past. For an appeal or writ to succeed, there must be ample evidence to support it. And it must focus on the case’s flaws, rather than a disadvantageous outcome.
Because wrongful convictions can upend livelihoods, people must act fast when facing one. Consulting a criminal defense attorney can help with moving the process forward.