The ultimate purpose of our criminal justice system is to convict the guilty and clear the innocent. Sometimes, unfortunately more often than not, certain situations arise that can cloud the judgment of those making these decisions and can cause the innocent to be subjected to a wrongful conviction. Being able to identify and understand the causes of wrongful convictions is an important step in preserving the integrity of our justice system.
Here are five situations that can be the cause of a wrongful conviction:
Eyewitness Misidentification – Research shows that the human mind is not like a tape recorder; we neither record events exactly as we see them, nor recall them like a tape that has been rewound. Instead, witness memory is like any other evidence at a crime scene; it must be preserved carefully and retrieved methodically, or it can be contaminated.
False Confessions – Many times an innocent defendant may make incriminating statements, deliver outright confessions, or plead guilty. Regardless of the age, capacity, or state of the confessor, what they often have in common is a decision—at some point during the interrogation process—that confessing will be more beneficial to them than continuing to maintain their innocence.
Government Misconduct – Sadly, there are times when government officials take steps to ensure that a defendant is convicted despite weak evidence or even clear proof of innocence.
Snitches – This is a scary one as sometimes people with incentives to testify—particularly incentives that are not disclosed to the jury—are the central evidence in convicting an innocent person. People have been wrongfully convicted in cases in which snitches are paid to testify or receive favors in return for their testimony.
Bad Lawyering – The failure of overworked lawyers to investigate, call witnesses, or prepare for trial has led to the conviction of innocent people.
Of course there are many other instances that can lead to a wrongful conviction. Having a trustworthy and experienced criminal defense attorney on your side is the first step to making sure your case is handled properly. With the assistance of someone like Russell Spatz, you can ensure that care is taken to avoid having one of these actions affect the outcome of your case. Give him a call today at (305) 442-0200 to schedule a consultation.