In recent years, stories of wrongful convictions have been prevalent in California and the rest of the country. As DNA technology advances, many who were formerly convicted of committing a crime are being proven innocent and being released from imprisonment after spending years and even decades behind bars for crimes they did not commit. As the nation catches on to the concept of wrongful convictions, the Michigan Law Innocence Clinic examines the common causes of wrongful convictions.
One thing that leads to wrongful convictions is false confessions. From perceived or real threats from law enforcement officials to simple hunger and exhaustion, there are many reasons that someone may confess to a crime they did not commit. There is often some point during interrogation that the suspect determines that confessing to the crime is better than holding onto their claims of innocence. Once these confessions are made, they are hard to recant.
Another problem that leads to wrongful convictions is eyewitness misidentification. Many believe that eyewitnesses are the most reliable form of evidence, but without the presence of physical evidence tying a person to the crime, witness testimony can be confused. The memory does not function like a tape recorder, recording each event as it happens and storing it for further review. Rather, it is susceptible to suggestion and bias and should be retrieved methodically and preserved carefully to avoid contamination.
There are also cases where forensic analysts rely on junk science or unproven forensic testing methods that have no reliability or significance. Forensic analysts and government officials are also susceptible to misconduct just like any other individual.
If you have been accused of committing a crime, preserving your innocence is of the utmost importance. Contacting a criminal defense lawyer can make a significant difference in how you navigate the criminal justice system.
This is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as legal advice.