New York’s wrongful conviction laws behind many other states

Many people are wrongfully convicted across the U.S. and are serving time in prison for crimes they did not commit.

To be wrongfully accused and then convicted of a crime is a nightmare that simply can't be imagined by most people. Unfortunately for hundreds of people throughout the U.S., and possibly even thousands, this is a nightmare they are forced to live with daily. Many people serve time in prison for crimes they did not commit, ranging from theft to serious crimes such as murder and rape. Some eventually see justice and are released, but tragically, many others serve their entire sentences without exoneration.

New York is said to be one of the worst states for wrongful convictions, according to the Innocence Project. More people have been wrongfully convicted of murder in New York than any other state during the same time period. Twenty-four people so far have been exonerated through post-conviction DNA in New York, making the state the third in the nation for wrongful convictions overturned by DNA evidence.

New York's laws to protect the wrongfully convicted

Many states have laws in place to protect people from wrongful convictions, as well as to compensate innocent people for time served in prison, says CNN. Some states will award a person a monetary sum, based on the amount of time he or she spent in prison, as well as provide additional benefits such as counseling, job training and tuition fees. However, the Court of Claims in New York determines the amount an exonerated person receives after release, and will not consider claims for those who falsely confessed to a crime, even if he or she felt intimidated and pressured to do so.

Even if compensated, the lost years in prison can never be returned. Such was the case for a man who was wrongfully convicted in 1989 for the Brooklyn murder of another man in an alleged money dispute. During his trial, he said he had been at Disney World at the time of the murder, and provided phone and store receipts to prove his whereabouts. However, prosecutors convinced the jury to ignore his evidence; the testimony of a woman who recanted her statement later was the only evidence that resulted in his conviction. After almost 25 years in prison, the man was exonerated, and has sued New York City for $162 million. Meanwhile, he was released without a home or job skills to help him reintegrate back into society.

Challenges the wrongfully convicted face after exoneration

Because the consequences of a wrongful conviction can be so severe, it is important to work with a criminal defense lawyer immediately after being accused of a crime or being placed under arrest. Those exonerated after years in prison can face many challenges upon their release, including:

  • Dealing with the loss of companionship with family, friends, spouse and children.
  • Lack of education or training to make a living in the job market.
  • Confusion with the rapid change in technology during their incarceration.

Additionally, people often face a painful loss of reputation from their conviction, even after being proven innocent.

Getting help from an attorney

Being wrongfully accused of a crime is a nightmare nobody should have to face. If you've been accused of a crime, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away to protect your rights. A proper defense at the beginning of the process can help a wrongful conviction from ever happening.

Keywords: arrest, wrongful conviction