Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Wrongful Conviction Definition:

A conviction of a person accused of a crime which, in the result of subsequent investigation, proves erroneous.

Persons who are in fact innocent but who have been wrongly convicted by a jury or other court of law.

Although the reversal of a conviction based on subsequent disculpatory evidence has always formed part of criminal law, the advent of DNA evidence has given it considerable persuasive effect. Prior to DNA, subsequent evidence, though true, was discounted as usually oral in nature or proferred by a person in-custody. Further, persons convicted are not typically able to subsidize expensive forensic or other investigations into their wrongful convictions.

The New York-based Innocence project suggests that:

"[T]he primary causes of wrongful convictions to include eyewitness misidentification; negligence, misconduct and poor training in forensic laboratories; false confessions; the use of jailhouse informants; incompetent or inadequate defense lawyering; and prosecutorial/police mistakes or misconduct."

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