A wrongful conviction is one of the most tragic things that can happen in the criminal justice system. Putting a person in jail, sometimes for decades, essentially steals their life away from them. Even if they get released later on, they can never get that time back.
Since DNA evidence entered the picture, many convictions have been overturned. It can offer solid proof that someone else committed the crime, and it can cast doubt on a jury's decisions made without this evidence. In some cases, DNA evidence is now being processed for cases that happened years ago, before it was even an option.
So, why do wrongful convictions occur? There are many reasons, from inaccurate witness statements to biases on the part of the jury to simple admissions of guilt by those who did nothing wrong. In some cases, they also happen because people make critical mistakes that make them appear guilty.
For instance, one man was investigated for murder when a woman passed away. While still married, he and the woman had started a romantic relationship. His initial instinct was not to expose this relationship, so he lied to the police. He then got convicted, in part, because of those lies.
However, DNA evidence finally cleared him earlier this year. He had been in jail for around 20 years for a crime he never committed, based on that one mistake he made in a stressful situation.
Wrongful convictions happen, and you must know all the legal options you have to make things right. This is true immediately after the conviction or after it gets overturned in the future.