No one should be sent to prison for something they didn’t do. Wrongful conviction onviction can cost you your job, your family, and your livelihood. It carries a mark that isn’t easily erased and will likely make it difficult to restore your life when you get out. Unfortunately, many Americans are incarcerated every year for crimes they didn’t commit. What sort of legal recourse is available if this happens to you?
If you’ve been wrongfully convicted, a dedicated civil rights attorney may be able to help. Let Hale & Monico review your case and advise you of your legal options today.
Why Does Wrongful Conviction Happen?
A report from the National Registry of Exonerations showed that 166 wrongfully convicted people were declared innocent in 2016. Some of these wrongful convictions and wrongful imprisonments date back decades, and it appears that these numbers are going up. The crimes for which people may be exonerated include everything from drug offenses to murder.
Why are so many Americans wrongfully convicted and sent to prison? Here are a few of the most common reasons:
Suppressed evidence. Prosecutors, district attorneys, and law enforcement agencies sometimes obtain exonerating evidence that would free the accused defendant. Despite their obligation to turn this evidence over to the defense, they may choose instead to withhold it. Wrongfully suppressed evidence can mean that someone spends years behind bars for something they didn’t even do.
Planted or fabricated evidence. A closely related problem is incriminating evidence that’s planted at a crime scene or on the suspect to justify an arrest and conviction. The police or others may even fabricate evidence entirely. Although these are serious offenses in and of themselves, that doesn’t mean that a jury won’t be persuaded to convict and imprison the accused.
Coerced confessions. There’s a long and tragic history in this country of law enforcement coercing suspects to “confess” to crimes they didn’t commit. This coercion may take the form of threats to the suspect, threats to the suspect’s family, tricks, or false promises that the court will “go easy” on the accused. Regardless of how they happen, coerced confessions shouldn’t be allowed to lead to a conviction and imprisonment.
False testimony in court. Prosecutors often solicit testimony from individuals who may or may not be trustworthy. Sometimes, these individuals enter plea deals to save themselves from prosecution, either for the same crime or unrelated ones. There’s a lot of pressure to secure a conviction, and this often results in unreliable testimony and ultimately wrongful imprisonment.
Problems with DNA evidence. DNA has become a helpful tool to solve serious crimes like rape and murder. But it doesn’t mean that DNA should always have the final word. The evidence may be unreliable for several reasons, including mistakes at the lab, tampering with the evidence, or drawing DNA samples from the wrong person. All evidence has to be closely scrutinized, even seemingly foolproof DNA evidence.
Compensation For Wrongful Conviction
If you were wrongfully imprisoned, you may have a civil rights claim. In Illinois, the wrongfully convicted and imprisoned can be awarded compensation for job placement, education, mental health treatment, and more. No amount of money can restore the time that was wrongfully taken from you. But it can help you move on with and repair your life.
Part of having the right attorney is making sure you ask for a fair amount of compensation based on the facts in your case. If you’ve been in prison for a long time, you are generally going to need more assistance to get back to normal. Every case is different, but the right lawyer will take a close look at your needs and build a case accordingly.
How Can An Attorney Help?
Having an experienced civil rights attorney begins with retaining a law firm that knows how wrongful conviction cases work. Our attorneys have worked with numerous clients to clear their names and win them the compensation they deserve. We understand the relevant statutes and what sort of evidence must be brought to fight for our clients.
When you hire us to represent you, we immediately get to work investigating how the wrongful conviction and imprisonment happened. That may include interviewing witnesses, reviewing the evidence, reading court transcripts, deposing individuals who can explain what occurred, and more.
Once your case is ready, we bring it to trial as a civil lawsuit. It may be possible to settle your claim out of court, an option we will explore as the case develops. We will also work to win you the maximum award available under law and to specifically demand compensation for the services you will need to start getting your life back on track.
Contact Our Wrongful Conviction Attorney
Although it’s not possible to undo all the damage caused by your wrongful conviction, you have the right to demand justice for what was done to you. If you or a family member were imprisoned based on false evidence or other wrongdoing, reach out to Hale & Monico today. We can fight for the compensation you deserve.