Seeking Compensation for Wrongful Imprisonment
The criminal justice system in the United States is not perfect. Even with competent criminal defense counsel, innocent individuals are sometimes wrongfully convicted of crimes and sentenced to lengthy prison sentences. The 2015 Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer brought this issue to many viewers’ attention.
When DNA testing became sophisticated enough to use in criminal investigations, it became an important tool used to prove the innocence of many convicted individuals. Since the first DNA exoneration in 1989, 321 people in the United States have been exonerated based on DNA evidence. In total, 1,467 people have been exonerated in the United States.
How Are Innocent Individuals Exonerated?
As discussed above, DNA evidence from a crime scene can be used to prove that the individual convicted of the crime is innocent. When new evidence or other facts related to a case arise, the case may be re-tried. Throwing out certain evidence, using newly discovered evidence, and working with new details – like a truthful testimony after determining a witness in the first trial lied or the realization that a defendant made a false confession– can change how the court rules on a case, ultimately finding the defendant innocent.
Another way an individual can be exonerated is through an appeal. A ruling can be appealed if one of the parties involved feels the court misinterpreted the law or misused court protocol in its original actions. This, too, can result in a defendant’s exoneration.
Damages Which Can Be Suffered from Wrongful Imprisonment
On average, a wrongfully convicted individual spends 14 years in prison before being exonerated. While you are incarcerated, your entire life is placed on hold. You cannot work while you are imprisoned, you cannot advance your career, you cannot spend time with your loved ones, and overall, you cannot enjoy the life you are entitled to enjoy. All of these losses may result in compensation by the government agency responsible for a person’s wrongful imprisonment. 29 states have laws in place requiring that wrongfully imprisoned individuals be compensated for their related losses. Illinois is one of these states.
Pursuing Compensation for Wrongful Imprisonment-related Damages
To pursue compensation for wrongful conviction damages, a person may file a civil lawsuit against the party or parties responsible for their wrongful conviction. In Illinois, the amount of compensation a person may receive for these damages is calculated according to the number of years spent in prison and the average cost of living during each of those years. There is a cap on the total amount of compensation a person can receive, depending on the number of years they were incarcerated.
Work With an Experienced St. Charles Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have been wrongfully imprisoned, you have the right to pursue compensation for the damages you suffered as a result. To learn more about your rights when you are in this position and to determine whether you are entitled to recover compensation for your losses, discuss your case with a Naperville criminal defense lawyer. Contact our team at Donahue & Sowa today to set up your free initial consultation with us. Call us today at 630-505-5200 for help.