The fact is that people are wrongfully convicted of crimes in America and that the wrongfully convicted are often locked up in the process. In fact, there are several factors that commonly contribute to wrongful convictions. If you are facing criminal charges, you certainly do not want a wrongful conviction to befall you, which is why it is critical to work closely with an experienced criminal defense attorney from the moment you are charged and throughout your case.
Misidentification by an Eyewitness
Eyewitnesses are generally well-meaning, but they can also be downright wrong. If you have ever been absolutely positive that you did X, but later realized that you had actually done Y, you probably have a reasonable understanding of the misidentification phenomenon – our memories can be quite flexible and fluid. Even though we all recognize that our memories are sometimes flawed, a confident eyewitness can be extremely persuasive to a jury.
Poorly Handled or Misguided Forensics
Recent media focus on improperly handled lab tests (and even on the labs themselves) highlights exactly how foolproof forensics are not. While the technology itself has come a long way over the many years, these technologies remain under the control of humans who make mistakes – and sometimes even engage in nefarious activities. Further, forensic experts can range on a scale from providing hard scientific facts to spouting off on science that is questionable at best.
The stress of being charged with a serious crime and then undergoing questioning can crack even the most intrepid among us, and false confessions are not as uncommon as you probably believe. People confess to crimes they did not commit for any number of reasons, including:
- Children, adolescents, and the mentally disabled are far more vulnerable to making false confessions.
- An Interviewee will often succumb to the duress of the situation.
- An Interviewee will often succumb to the interviewer’s coercion.
- An Interviewee will often fear a harsher sentence if he or she does not make a plea with his or her confession.
Informants Who Are Incentivized
When an informant comes forward with information about a case as a result of being offered something in return, it begs the question of whether the information provided is credible or not. If the informant stands to receive a reduced sentence or some other critical perk, it could sway his or her testimony, which can help bring about a false conviction.