The criminal justice system in the U.S. is frequently touted as one of the best in the world. While this may be the case, it is far from perfect. Every year, hundreds of convictions are overturned and some studies suggest that there are currently hundreds of thousands of innocent people behind bars.
What are some of the more common causes of wrongful convictions?
It may seem far-fetched for someone to confess to a crime that they did not commit, but this is relatively common. Police interrogations can be terrifying for those on the receiving end, particularly those who are in a more vulnerable state or not used to dealing with law enforcement.
In such a situation, it can be tempting to tell the police what you think they want to hear. They might even lead you to believe that you will be set free once you have “told the truth”. The sad reality is that after a false confession, it’s unlikely that you are going to land up anywhere other than jail.
Witness statements may comprise a key part of the evidence against you. Criminal acts often happen within a matter of seconds and it usually takes several months before a case goes to trial. Not only might a witness not have seen the event clearly in the first place, but they may have to fill in the gaps in their memory by the time the court date comes around.
What this means is that their recollection could be inaccurate. In criminal appeals, it often becomes apparent that a witness has made an error in identifying the suspect or in describing precisely what happened.
Another common cause of wrongful convictions is inadequate criminal defense. If you’re facing criminal charges, you want to avoid this risk by seeking legal guidance from someone who will stand up for your rights.