If someone is found guilty of a crime, it should mean the prosecution proved their case. That evidence shows the accused is guilty, without a reasonable doubt. Unfortunately, too many have found that this is not always the case.
Despite discrepancies in testimony or missing information, courts can convict someone of a crime they did not commit. In fact, it’s happened so often that researchers can determine factors common in wrongful conviction cases. They include:
The age of the defendant
Most of the time, a person accused of a crime they did not commit is young. This could be because younger defendants are less familiar with the legal system. They are more likely to be intimidated into a forced confession.
Facing arrest then interrogation is a traumatic experience for anyone. For younger suspects, it can be too much to handle. This experience leads some to admit to crimes they did not commit.
Evidence not presented by the prosecution
In cases of wrongfully-convicted individuals, there may be evidence that does not fit the prosecution's case. Prosecutors may refuse to present this evidence to the court. Holding back evidence can greatly improve a prosecutor's case. Someone may face a conviction because of circumstances outside of their control.
No evidence equals a better case for prosecutors and leads to guilty verdicts.
Past criminal charges
A record of prior criminal activity can sway the opinion of a jury or influence a judge’s verdict. Someone’s past may be a major factor in the trial. Too often, a jury or a judge looks for patterns in the current charges that connect with previous ones.
A weak defense
This is an obvious factor but has a major impact. Without an adequate defense, someone’s chances of being wrongfully convicted go up. It’s no wonder that a weak defense is one of the identified factors of wrongful convictions.
If someone is accused of a crime, their defense attorney must force the prosecution to prove it. Without reasonable doubt, the suspect is guilty. A weak defense cannot reach that level.
These are just a few of the common factors found in incidents of wrongful conviction. If you or someone you know feels they have been a victim of wrongful conviction, a skilled attorney can help.