Common factors that can lead to wrongful convictions

Technological advances have led to a variety of tools and tests that can help exonerate those who are wrongfully convicted of a crime. Although these advances help right the wrongs of the criminal justice system, it is preferable to avoid these wrongful convictions in the first place. Unfortunately, it appears New York is lagging behind the nation in this regard.

A recent report by the Innocence Project notes that New York leads the nation in the number of wrongful convictions. Even more concerning, the state also lacks the reforms needed that can help prevent these mistakes. Critic's of New York's system state that major reform is not needed. Instead, implementation of relatively simple measures addressing how interrogations are conducted could lead to a noticeable reduction in these mistakes.

Similar issues led the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice to fund a study researching the causes of wrongful convictions. During the study, researchers found certain factors increased an individual's likelihood of becoming the victim of a wrongful conviction.

More on study's findings

The study, Predicting Erroneous Convictions: A Social Science Approach to Miscarriages of Justice, was conducted by American University's Washington Institute for Public and International Affairs Research. Based on the study's findings, some factors that were more likely to lead to a wrongful conviction included:

  • Prior convictions. A prior conviction can lead to a variety of circumstances that would increase an individual's likelihood of a wrongful conviction. For example, those with prior convictions likely have their photo available in a mug book, increasing the odds that a witness could falsely identify the individual for the crime.
  • Errors in forensic evidence. The most common mistake cited by the study occurred when a professional overstated the accuracy of a test's results. An example would involve a hair analysis test. Although this test is helpful, it is far from conclusive. In fact, no reliable statistics are available to guide a professional on how accurate this test is.
  • Defendant's age. A younger defendant may be less likely to take the charges seriously and fight for his or her innocence. This could lead to a weak defense.

Regardless of the cause of a wrongful conviction, those who are found innocent after receiving a conviction can receive compensation for potential lost wages as well as pain and suffering. If you were wrongfully convicted of a crime, contact an experienced false charges attorney to discuss your case and better ensure your legal rights are protected.