The reality TV show The First 48 and the City of Miami got its own dose of reality earlier this month when a federal jury awarded $850,000 to 27-year-old Taiwan Smart for a wrongful arrest that was made as a part of the show.
Smart spent 19 months in jail before charges against him were dropped. He was accused of execution-style killings of two teens in Little Haiti in November 2009. The drama of the killer’s search played out on the reality show.
Officers named Smart a suspect in the killings and arrested him after they found out that he had been inside of the apartment where the two teens were killed prior to the shooting. He claimed he fled before the shooter opened fire.
The cameras and production crew followed the investigation. The premise of the show is that law enforcement has 48-hours after a murder to find the criminal. As the show’s introduction claims, after more than two days, the chances of making an arrest begin to statistically slim.
Smart’s lawsuit claimed that the detectives questioned him for 19 hours and then grossly misrepresented the evidence against him. During the trial, the judge expressed concern over “what is real versus the result of reality television.” Adding to the evidence, Smart passed a polygraph test. Furthermore, the lawsuit claimed that another prisoner in Miami admitted to his fellow inmates that he killed the teens. It took Federal jurors less than three hours to make a decision.
Smart’s lawyers expressed in the lawsuit that, “…with an eye toward fame and notoriety for themselves and the city, the detectives plowed ahead with their ‘speedy’ theory of crime resolution and arrested, shamed and humiliated this young man, as well as depriving him of his freedom for 19 months.”
If you believe that you have been wrongly accused of a crime, a criminal defense lawyer can be your best ally. Furthermore, if you are convicted of a crime and believe that you were found guilty because of your attorney’s mistakes or lack of competence, the statute of ineffective assistance of counsel may be able to help you appeal their conviction. Talk to an experienced criminal defense lawyer about your options.
MiamiHerald.com, “Miami man awarded $850,000 in wrongful arrest case involving ‘The First 48’ show,” David Ovalle, 16 June 2015