A wrongful conviction occurs when a person is punished for a crime they did not commit or when procedural errors violate the rights of the accused. Sometimes a wrongful conviction is referred to as a “miscarriage of justice.” New York City law firm Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green represents wrongful conviction cases related to coerced confession, false imprisonment, police brutality, mishandled evidence, and more.

How Often Do Wrongful Convictions Occur in New York?

It’s difficult to assess the total number of New Yorkers affected by wrongful convictions each year. Overturning a conviction is extremely difficult, and there are few New York City personal injury lawyers willing to go out on a limb in crusading for justice and reform.

  • A report released by The Innocence Project found that New York had the third-highest number of wrongful convictions exonerated by DNA evidence, next to Texas and Illinois.
  • According to a study by the National Registry of Exonerations, 2,265 innocent Americans were put behind bars between 1989 and 2017, resulting in a combined loss of 20,080 years.  
  • On average, according to the Equal Justice Initiative, a wrongfully convicted person spends eight years and 10 months behind bars for a crime they did not commit.

In the eyes of a personal injury attorney, one innocent life locked away is one too many. The majority of false convictions (49%) affect African Americans, disrupting families, and entire communities for generations. Systemic racism is considered one of the many reasons wrongful convictions occur.  

Why Do Wrongful Convictions Occur?

Wrongful convictions can occur due to:

  • 58% – Perjury and false accusations intended to hurt or exact revenge or self-serving prison informants
  • 52% – Official misconduct, corruption, and framing (to “close more cases” and appease victims)
  • 28% – Eyewitness misidentification and the unintentional fallibility of human memory
  • 23% – Scientifically invalid lab tools (microscopic hair matching, bite mark matching, DNA amplification)

Problems can occur on the defense side as well. Public defenders, who represent low-income clients who can’t afford to hire a defense attorney, suffer from crippling caseloads and lack of funding that makes it near-impossible to mount a strong defense.   

How Can You Fight Against a Wrongful Conviction Charge?

Wrongful convictions rob men and women of their youth, careers, relationships, and freedom. Individuals who are wrongly imprisoned–whether due to abuse of authority, lack of forensic evidence, witness misidentification, or a coerced confession– have a right to seek fair compensation for the injustice they have suffered.

To overturn a wrongful conviction:

  • A notice of appeal is filed.
  • A review of the trial record is conducted, with evidence gathered for the appeal.
  • The appeals attorney submits an opening brief to the court, outlining the errors.
  • The opposing attorney files a reply brief, outlining why the conviction should be upheld.
  • Oral arguments from both sides are presented before a panel of appellate court judges.
  • The panel reviews all information and issues a decision in writing.

What Compensation Can You Get for a Wrongful Conviction Lawsuit?

New York is one of 28 states along with the District of Columbia that compensates the wrongfully convicted. Unlike states like California, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and others, there is no limit to how much compensation the wrongfully accused can obtain.

False imprisonment often results in financial compensation for damages like past anguish and loss of liberty, pain and suffering, past lost earnings, impairment of future earnings, psychological treatment, anxiety, depression, PTSD, and impaired familial relationships.

At Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green, we know that exonerees, on average, get about $69,000 for every year served behind bars. Those who file civil lawsuits tend to recover more money. While there is no guarantee that a lawsuit will result in a victory, those who prevail in court receive a median payout of roughly $300,000 for every year in prison.

The federal wrongful conviction compensation statute allows higher reimbursement for those who spent time on death row. An exonerated death row inmate can receive up to $50,000 per year of wrongful imprisonment and up to $100,000 per year that they spent on death row.

Top Legal Representation at No Upfront Expense

Contact a New York City civil rights lawyer at Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green to seek the remuneration you deserve and advocate for change in a flawed criminal justice system. We work on a contingency basis and derive our legal fee from a successful settlement or jury award, so you don’t need to worry about how you’ll afford the best legal representation.