Wrongful arrests, convictions, and incarcerations can be extremely disruptive and wreak havoc in victims’ lives. In many cases, it causes them to become estranged from their families and significant issues in terms of securing employment. Many people who have been wrongfully convicted of a crime struggle to rebuild normal day-to-day existences and a sense of security. In short, wrongful convictions and incarcerations have the power to destroy lives.
In some cases, the wrongful conviction takes place because of mistaken but good faith efforts on the part of law enforcement. In others, police and prosecutors base charges on testimony or evidence they know is false, unreliable, illegally obtained, or coerced. They may discover exonerating evidence and fail to share it with the defense. The arresting officer may actually commit an act of misconduct, then falsely claim the defendant assaulted him.
Although no one should ever have to deal with a wrongful arrest or conviction in the first place, they sometimes do occur. If your wrongful conviction is overturned, you may recover monetary damages as compensation for the wrongful conviction through state wrongful conviction laws or by filing a civil rights lawsuit.
The experienced federal civil rights lawyers at The Zeiger Firm understand the pain that often accompanies a wrongful conviction and subsequent incarceration. While we know that the stigma of a wrongful conviction often lingers, there are certain steps that you can take to overturn a wrongful conviction and recover compensation for all of the damages that you suffered throughout the criminal process. Our legal team is committed to assisting victims of wrongful criminal convictions with recovering the monetary compensation and access to services that they deserve.
Please give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you take legal action to overturn a wrongful criminal conviction. Our law firm handles wrongful conviction cases that arise in the following counties that comprise the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in the federal court system: Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, and Philadelphia.
Common Reasons For Wrongful Convictions and Incarcerations
Unfortunately, wrongful convictions are not going away. In fact, the number of exonerations for wrongful convictions across the United States has increased in recent years, rather than decreased. According to studies performed by the National Registry of Exonerations, about 2,000 known conviction exonerations occurred throughout the United States in almost 20 years.
The underlying charges that formed the bases for these convictions ranged from serious charges, such as assaults, incidents of domestic violence, and homicides, to far less serious charges, including illegal drug possession. Wrongful incarcerations and convictions also tend to disproportionately affect certain racial and ethnic groups more than others.
These alarming statistics prompt the question: Why do wrongful arrests, convictions, and incarcerations occur in the first place? In fact, there are many reasons why individuals are arrested and charged—and in some instances, even incarcerated—for a crime they never committed.
Some of the most common reasons for wrongful convictions include the following:
- Mistaken identification by a witness – In many criminal cases at both the state and federal levels, prosecutors rely upon eyewitnesses to the occurrence to describe what happened. In some instances, however, witnesses can’t get a clear view of the suspect and may misidentify the suspect in a line-up or photo array. When that happens, police may arrest the wrong person, and he or she may be mistakenly charged with and convicted of committing the underlying crime.
- False confessions or accusations – In some cases, when individuals are questioned and talk about a crime, police may obtain a false confession, leading to a wrongful arrest or conviction. Moreover, in some cases, individuals are coerced or induced into confessing to a crime that they did not actually commit, potentially leading to a wrongful arrest.
- Police officer misconduct or negligence – In some instances, wrongful arrests and convictions result from misconduct on the part of the police or other arresting law enforcement officers. By the same token, police officers and others who fail to perform their due diligence may wrongfully arrest a person and take him or her into custody. For example, if a police officer coerced a witness or planted false evidence, anyone wrongfully convicted would likely have a claim.
- Prosecutorial misconduct – Prosecutors have certain ethical and legal duties, and when they fail to discharge those duties, wrongful convictions can occur. For example, under the Brady Rule, prosecutors must disclose the existence of exculpatory evidence to the defense. If they violate the Brady Rule, victims of wrongful convictions may be entitled to compensation.
In many cases, a wrongful conviction involved a violation of a person’s due process rights under the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution. Furthermore, many states have enacted laws that authorize compensation for people whose convictions have been subsequently overturned. For this reason, if you or someone you love has been the victim of a wrongful arrest, conviction, or incarceration, an experienced federal civil rights attorney may assist you with taking legal action and pursuing the justice and monetary compensation that you deserve.
Pursuing Monetary Compensation and Damages For a Wrongful Conviction and Incarceration
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a wrongful conviction and incarceration, you may seek to overturn the conviction and pursue compensation for the resulting experience. Wrongful convictions and incarcerations have a detrimental impact on people’s lives and must never be taken lightly.
First and foremost, the claimant may pursue monetary compensation for each year of incarceration that the state wrongfully required him or her to serve. In addition, the claimant may receive services to help with securing housing and obtaining a job.
Those types of compensation and services include:
- Compensation for basic needs, including food and transportation
- Assistance with obtaining housing that is safe and affordable
- Assistance with educational needs and developing skills that are necessary to reenter the workforce
- Assistance with necessary public benefits and legal services
- Counseling assistance with a counseling service, psychologist, or psychiatrist
A knowledgeable federal civil rights attorney can assist you with recovering the compensation and services that you need following a wrongful conviction and incarceration.
Speak With a Federal Civil Rights Lawyer Today
If you or a person you care about has been the victim of a wrongful arrest, conviction, and/or incarceration, it is important for you to have knowledgeable legal counsel by your side throughout your case. The experienced and compassionate federal civil rights lawyers at The Zeiger Firm are ready to assist you with overturning a wrongful conviction and helping you to obtain the compensation and services that you deserve.
To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a federal civil rights attorney, please call us at (215) 546-0340 or contact us online today to learn more.