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Why are wrongful convictions so common?

On Behalf of | Apr 22, 2022 | Criminal Law |

When a crime occurs, the accuser must provide evidence, such as eyewitness accounts or physical evidence, but what happens when the alleged perpetrator is wrongfully accused?  The High Court notes that nearly 10% of people currently serving time in United States jails did not commit any crime, making this a common problem in the country’s court system.

Several factors contribute to wrongful convictions, and individuals accused of a crime may want to understand how this could affect them and any possible future punishments handed down by courts.

Witness errors

While advancements in DNA testing and criminal forensics assist with more accurate evidence in crimes, witness errors still account for a percentage of wrongful arrests and convictions. Witnesses may remember events incorrectly or mistake one individual for another. The stress or excitement a witness feels during an incident can also affect his or her memory, leading to a wrongful arrest.

False witness statements

Individuals may give false witnesses statements if they believe it will protect them from the law or if they have something to gain by deliberately providing a false statement. In some instances, several witnesses may conspire to tell the same story, which may cause wrongful incarceration.

False confessions

While it may seem unusual for innocent individuals to confess to a crime, it often happens under duress or if the individual seeks to protect someone else. This occurrence is more common among young people, particularly minors, who become involved in a crime.

Some people spend years in jail because of a wrongful conviction. While men experience this more than women, almost anyone could face such an injustice.