The legal definition of “wrongful conviction” is the conviction of a person accused of a crime which, as a result of an ensuing investigation, proves erroneous.
A long-term study performed by the National Registry of Exonerations (NRE) reported over 2,500 people in the U.S. had been exonerated between 1989 and 2019, after having served more than a combined 22,000 years behind bars. It’s a tragedy– spending decade of your life incarcerated for an offense you never committed– yet it occurs with alarming frequency.
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Alarming Statistics about Wrongful Convictions
According to the NRE, there are other disturbing statistics from 2019. For example, there were a record number of years lost to imprisonment by defendants who were exonerated for crimes they did not commit. There were 1,908 combined years lost for 143 exonerations, which averages 13.3 years per exoneree.
- In at least 93 of the 143 exonerations, there was official misconduct. A total of 75 percent of the murder exonerations featured official misconduct.
- 48 of the 143 exonerations were for convictions based– at least partly– upon mistaken witness identifications.
- 24 of the 143 exonerations involved false confessions.
- 101 out of the 143 exonerations included perjury or other false accusations.
- 24 out of the 143 exonerations involved forensic evidence that was misleading or false.
- 11 of the 143 exonerations occurred right here in New York, the fourth-highest total for any state in the country.
Wrongful Conviction Lawyers in New York City
If you or a loved one have been wrongfully convicted, the NYC law offices of Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green, P. C. can help you pursue justice. An experienced NYC civil rights lawyer from our team can provide sound counsel on the best strategy to rectify this. We have answers to your questions and we leverage a demonstrable track record of success litigating wrongful conviction cases.
Individuals who are wrongfully convicted may be able to file a civil rights lawsuit or a claim under the Unjust Conviction and Imprisonment Act in the New York Court of Claims. Fortified with extensive trial expertise, our wrongful conviction attorneys take on a wide range of complex matters, including:
- False imprisonment
- Coerced confession
- Police brutality and misconduct
- False arrest
- Malicious prosecution
- Tainted or mishandled evidence
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Victims of wrongful conviction in New York have recourse
New York is among 28 other states along with the District of Columbia that have statutes for compensating those who were wrongfully convicted.
For example, in 2014, Jabbar Collins of Brooklyn was exonerated. He ultimately received $13 million from New York City and New York State after spending 15 years in a maximum-security prison for a crime he did not commit. Collins, like others before him, sued under the Unjust Conviction Act. This law provides recourse for New Yorkers to seek monetary damages if they can demonstrate their innocence with clear and convincing evidence.
Many men and women have been robbed of their youth, their careers, their lives, and the opportunity to make cherished memories with their loved onesby a wrongful conviction. Individuals who are wrongly imprisoned– whether due to abuse of authority, coerced confessions, lack of forensic evidence, racial profiling, or witness misidentification, should be fairly compensated for the injustice they have suffered.
The Innocence Project reports that New York has a disproportionately high rate of wrongful convictions, which underscores the need for victims to seek exemplary legal advocates who concentrate on civil rights violations. We offer powerful representation for those who have been falsely accused and convicted of crimes they did not commit.
Challenges faced by exonerees
After serving time in jail, individuals who are exonerated of a crime they did not commit are left to pick up the pieces of their lives. Reentry into society– even after short stints of incarceration– is generally fraught with challenges. This miscarriage of justice forever stigmatizes them. Moreover, they may be suffering from long-term emotional and financial hardships,
At Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green, P. C., we represent clients in all aspects of wrongful conviction claims and are passionate about helping victims seek legal relief for the many harms they have suffered. Take action to protect your rights; contact us 24/7 to schedule a confidential case review.
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Your Lawyer Matters Now More Than Ever
It is vital to understand that one of the last things the government in New York wants to do is admit to any wrongdoing– that subsequently resulted in an innocent person’s conviction. Therefore, if you file a lawsuit against the NYPD or other government entity, you can expect the other side to aggressively dispute your claims and try to reaffirm that nothing unjust transpired.
You need an experienced attorney who excels in these cases, who knows what to do at each stage of a wrongful conviction lawsuit– to procure evidence of false imprisonment and maximize your financial recovery.
Am I Eligible to File a Claim?
Fortunately, due to the latest advances in criminal justice sciences, forensics, and DNA, wrongfully convicted New Yorkers now have a better chance of proving their innocence.
To prevail in a wrongful conviction lawsuit, you must meet the following elements:
- You were convicted of a crime
- You spent time in prison
- You have been released due to reasons relating to your innocence
Damages That May be Available to You
While the legal system cannot do anything to give you back those years, it does seek to achieve justice through financial compensation. Here are some of the damages you may seek in a wrongful conviction lawsuit:
- Physical injuries suffered during incarceration. Unfortunately, this is common as inmates often get into altercations with other inmates or with correctional officers.
- Emotional distress: This typically involves depression or anxiety. Being released back into society is undoubtedly a relief; it can also be accompanied by severe anxiety about the future. For example, where you will live, will you find gainful employment, will your loved ones welcome you home.
- Economic harm: Wrongfully convicted people still often face an uphill battle when it comes to obtaining gainful employment due to the stigma society has placed on them.
- Loss of consortium: Wrongfully convicted people may miss decades with their spouses, children, or parents. It is devastating to lose so much time with family. Unfortunately, you may also struggle to rebuild these relationships.
- Loss of time: There is no telling what you could have done or experienced in those years you spent behind bars, and now you will.
- Loss of liberty: The inherent right to freedom was unjustly taken from you, as you were denied the opportunity to become a contributing member of society.
In general, the longer you were imprisoned and the more severe the prosecutorial misconduct that led to your wrongful conviction, the more you will be awarded in damages.
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New York Civil Rights Attorneys
If you have been unjustly accused of a crime and need help from a reputable wrongful conviction lawyer in New York, reach out to the law offices of Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green, P. C. Our legal team understands how a wrongful conviction and imprisonment can derail the lives of victims and their loved ones. We are skilled litigators of civil rights and want to hear your side of the story. Contact us 24 hours a day to arrange a private consultation.
- New York Times, How a City in Fear Brutalized the Central Park Five, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/30/arts/television/when-they-see-us-real-story.html
- Duhaime’s Law Dictionary, Wrongful Conviction http://www.duhaime.org/LegalDictionary/W/WrongfulConviction.aspx
- CBS News, How the wrongfully convicted are compensated for years lost https://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-the-wrongfully-convicted-are-compensated/
- ProPublica.org, New York State to Pay Millions in Wrongful Conviction Case https://www.propublica.org/article/state-to-pay-millions-in-wrongful-conviction-case
- Washington Post, Wrongful convictions have stolen at least 20,000 years from innocent defendants https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/opinions/wp/2018/09/10/report-wrongful-convictions-have-stolen-at-least-20000-years-from-innocent-defendants/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.a5728b9f8485