New Yorkers who are alleged to have committed crimes and are placed under arrest might be under the impression that the justice system will work in their favor with fairness. If they did not do what they are accused of, it is easy to think that they will be cleared of the charges and can move on with their lives. Unfortunately, that is not the case for a troubling number of people. Those who have been wrongfully convicted of a crime and punished for it should be aware of their rights to seek compensation.
Recently, the Brooklyn District Attorney shared stories about 25 people who were wrongfully convicted. In total, these individuals – who were nearly all Black and Hispanic – spent more than 400 years in prison. The DA said that police and prosecutors made mistakes and committed misconduct that resulted in the convictions. The cases stretched as far back as 1960 and looked at 20 cases involving the 25 people.
The DA and the Innocence Project conducted this study to show how people can be sent to jail for crimes they did not commit and those who are supposed to be on the right side of the law omit important facts or commit improper acts to secure convictions rather than achieve a just outcome. The cases were overturned in the last six years. Sixty-five percent were due to missteps by police. Eighty-five percent were due to prosecutorial misconduct. The charges ranged from violence to theft and even election fraud. One of those exonerated was female, the rest were male. Three were still juveniles at the time they were convicted. Of the 20, 12 were incarcerated for at least two decades. Three died while in prison.
In New York and across the nation, people can be arrested in a variety of circumstances. This is especially true in the current landscape with protests and scores of individuals being arrested in groups. Looting, resisting arrest, violence and other accusations are being made. Those arrested should be cognizant of how police and prosecutors might do whatever they can to get a conviction even if it means circumventing the person’s rights or convicting someone who may be innocent.
If there is a wrongful conviction, those who served time will have the right to seek compensation not just for the time they lost while incarcerated, but for lost income, pain and suffering, and the difficult time most people have when they try to reintegrate in society after having been in jail. As these cases show, wrongful convictions happen quite often and negatively impact innocent people and their families. For those who shared a similar situation, legal advice in filing a claim can be helpful.
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