It’s no secret that the United States has a lot of prisoners. In fact, America contains the lion’s share of prisoners, with a quarter of the world’s known prison population behind bars in the U.S. As of 2016, approximately 2.3 million Americans are incarcerated. While in the U.S. citizens are granted all the rights to a fair trial, studies have found that a significant number of prisoners may be serving sentences they do not deserve.
Researchers have attempted to guess the number of wrongful convictions in the U.S. Several estimates place the percentage anywhere between two and ten percent. One study by criminologists at Penn State concluded that approximately 6% of state prisoners in Pennsylvania may have been wrongfully convicted.
The best way to avoid a wrongful conviction is to invest in quality legal counsel as soon as possible after being accused of or arrested for an offense. At The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel, Attorney Brian P. Gabriel devotes his career to protecting the rights of criminal defendants and upholding the presumption of innocence.
Why Are There Wrongful Convictions in the U.S.?
The issue of wrongful convictions is widespread. Unfortunately, several factors may contribute to wrongful convictions, and one or more of these factors may be present in any case. Defendants may not be able to avoid some of these factors on their own. However, experienced counsel may be able to mitigate the likelihood of the following factors being present in your case.
Sloppy Police Work
While many police officers go above and beyond to aid the justice system, some police officers may be responsible for hiding, altering, or fabricating evidence; lying on the witness stand; or making deals with prosecutors or other parties in return for made-up testimony.
Additionally, it’s not only defendants who may tamper with witnesses. Some police officers may intimidate or threaten witnesses, coerce confessions, or manipulate eyewitness testimony. When police officers fail to provide the facts and actively work to distort them, false convictions are more likely to occur since juries typically regard law enforcement officers as reliable sources of information.
Misconduct by Prosecutors
In some cases, it may be prosecutors who manipulate a case to attain a desired result. Some prosecutors may be prone to hiding exculpatory evidence; encouraging witnesses to commit perjury; lying to jurors, judges, and defense lawyers; using testimony from false experts; or ignoring evidence that may benefit the defendant.
False Confessions from Innocent Parties
It may be hard to believe, but false confessions happen with fair frequency for a number of reasons. Sometimes, due to the nature of interrogation techniques, suspects confess to crimes to put an end to the interrogation. Of 330 people who were exonerated by DNA evidence from 1980 through 2015, 25% falsely confessed after long interrogations. Most recanted their confessions.
Eyewitnesses Misremembering Events
It’s becoming more widely known that eyewitnesses don’t have the best recall. Eyewitness testimony is often inaccurate and may make it more challenging to seek the truth in a criminal matter.
Cellmates Snitching on Each Other
In jail, your cellmates may not be reliable, and some may be looking to take advantage of your situation. Some prisoners lead lives of crime and may give false statements to the jury and describe the defendant’s confession in detail in exchange for a more lenient sentence for their own crimes.
Judges should be unbiased and do their best to ensure a fair trial. In a criminal case, they should exclude confessions that are inconsistent with the physical evidence available, exclude the testimony of lifelong felons, and question the credentials of all experts giving testimony. Unfortunately, it may be possible to have a judge that makes decisions that are unfavorable to a defendant.
Fight for Your Innocence with the Help of Attorney Brian Gabriel
We all make mistakes. Unfortunately, some of these mistakes may cause you to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and may lead to a situation where you risk losing certain rights and freedoms. If you face criminal charges in West Palm Beach or surrounding areas and maintain your innocence, you deserve quality representation and an attorney who can present you with options for clearing your name.
Call Brain Gabriel at The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel at 561-622-5575, or complete an online contact form. Attorney Brian Gabriel has more than 30 years of experience standing up for the rights of wrongfully accused individuals in Palm Beach and surrounding counties.