Since the development of DNA evidence, it cannot be denied that people are falsely convicted. DNA testing has allowed for hundreds of convictions to be overturned, with solid proof that the people who were originally convicted were not guilty of the crimes they were accused of. Some of those who were wrongfully convicted only spent a short time in prison, while others spent decades being incarcerated before being exonerated.
When you look at these statistics, you’ll probably find yourself wondering why it happens in the first place. Why is it that people are falsely convicted so that they need to be cleared by DNA evidence in the first place? Isn’t the criminal justice system supposed to err on the side of avoiding false convictions?
Witnesses often get it wrong
The criminal justice system is supposed to try to avoid false convictions, but that’s difficult because there are so many factors in play. One thing to consider is that eyewitnesses are often wrong about the details that they provide. In 72% of exonerations due to DNA evidence, the original evidence used to convict the individual was a witness testimony.
Why are witnesses wrong?
The specific reasons that witnesses get it wrong vary from case to case. In some situations, a witness may just have been stressed and surprised by a sudden event, so they had an inaccurate memory. In other cases, the witness could be biased against a certain person or group of people, and then allow that personal bias to influence what they believe they saw. In still other cases, there are physical issues, such as visibility concerns. Many criminal events happen quite quickly, and witnesses simply do not have a very good view of the events taking place.
People give false confessions
In some cases of wrongful convictions, people will also give false confessions. This may be because they’ve been manipulated by the police into doing so, something that is especially a problem with young offenders. It could also be because they are covering up for someone else. These cases may be rare, but they do happen and are worth considering.
What are your options?
You can see how complicated facing criminal charges can really be and why it’s so important to understand all of your legal defense options as you work your way through this process.