Causes of Wrongful Convictions


If you are wrongfully convicted of a crime you didn’t commit, it may feel like the world is collapsing around you. Even though this is a tragic and potentially damaging outcome, it’s important to take a breath and know that just because you were initially convicted, that doesn’t mean that you need to accept it without a fight. Wrongful convictions occur far too often, and a recent study found that false convictions in the U.S. occur an estimated 4.1 percent of the time. While there are other potential causes of wrongful convictions, here are some of the most common:

  • Eyewitness Misidentification: By far the most common cause of wrongful convictions, eyewitness misidentification relies on a person’s memory as identification of a potential criminal. There are many reasons why a witness may misremember an event, not the least of which is the fallibility of the human mind. Another factor that could lead to misidentification is how clear their view of the subject was. Whether it was dark or their vision was obscured, misidentification can be a major issue that leads to a wrongful conviction.
  • “Junk” Science: Mishandled evidence or the use of unqualified “experts” in a trial can lead to a wrongful conviction. There are types of forensic testing methods that can be applied with little or no scientific validation, which can lead to forensic analysts testifying based on faulty data. In other cases, the analysts could have mishandled, intentionally or not, the evidence leading to its contamination.
  • False Confessions: There may come a time during the interrogation process where you believe – through encouragement from the interrogator or some other factor – that it is more beneficial to confess, rather than maintain your innocence.
  • Government Misconduct: Government officials may take steps in order to secure a guilty verdict, even if there isn’t strong evidence or even if there’s clear proof of innocence.
  • Informants: Someone may be incentivized – through promises, deals, or any number of factors – to testify against you, and their statements may be used to wrongfully convict an innocent person.

How Do I Appeal My Wrongful Conviction?

Just because you were wrongfully convicted doesn’t mean you need to stop fighting. As the defendant, you can make a motion asking the judge to overturn a jury’s guilty verdict and enter a verdict of not guilty. You can also move for a new trial – where you ask the judge to declare a mistrial, set aside the jury’s verdict, and start the trial over. You also have the option of appealing or seeking a writ, asking a higher court to reverse your conviction.

Whatever decision you choose to make, it’s important to have an experienced defense attorney by your side. At Koffel Brininger Nesbitt, our Columbus criminal defense lawyers have over 8,000 cases under our belt. Our experience allows us to work with you to maximize your legal outcome. Contact us today through our website, or call us at (614) 675-4845. Wrongful convictions are terrible things, so let our defense attorneys fight for your rights in court.

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