A wrongful conviction can seem crushing, whether it affects you specifically or a loved one you value. Your options may seem extremely limited and depending on the alleged crime, the accompanying penalties can be severe and life-changing.
However, a conviction isn’t always the end of the road. The National Registry of Exonerations (NRE) recently reported that 2,265 individuals in their database received exonerations or cleared convictions. This number includes at least ten Oregon residents. Shockingly, these wrongfully convicted individuals spent a combined 20,080 years behind bars.
Contributing factors and subsequent effects
There are many individual factors that may contribute to a wrongful conviction. According to the Oregon Innocence Project, some of the most common causes include:
- Eyewitness misidentifications
- False or coerced confessions
- Errors or misconduct by law enforcement, the prosecution or judges
- Withheld, unproven or insubstantial forensic evidence
- Inadequate defense
No matter the factors that led to the conviction, there are many consequences, including the financial cost and time served for the alleged crime. A criminal conviction can cause considerable damage to your home life, opportunities, future and reputation.
It can also lead to the start of your criminal record. When background checks are required, the existence of your criminal record can cause significant issues with employment, housing, education and more. Expungement can be an option to erase or seal records of arrests, charges and convictions from criminal records. However, convictions are not always eligible for expungement.
What are your options following a conviction?
Fortunately, there are options following a wrongful conviction. You may file a criminal appeal within 30 days of your trial that did not end well. Should the appeal fail to produce a different ruling, you may consider seeking post-conviction relief. This option is typically considered if you believe your conviction was due to errors or misconduct by the prosecution, judge or even your own attorney.
Going through a trial once can be taxing enough but determining how to fight a conviction can be particularly challenging. Yet, it is possible. Supporting the stats reported by the NRE, just last year, 139 innocent individuals had their convictions overturned. Seeking the help of an attorney experienced with appeals, post-conviction relief and more can assure your case gets the dedicated attention it deserves.