What are the Causes of Wrongful Convictions in Texas?
The criminal justice system should be designed to protect against wrongful convictions at all costs. Unfortunately, humans make errors, including law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, and juries. These errors can result in wrongful convictions and, sometimes, lengthy prison sentences for defendants who did nothing wrong. Estimates indicate that about four percent of Texas inmates are imprisoned wrongfully.
The best way to prevent a wrongful conviction is to seek the representation of a Collin County criminal defense attorney as soon as you are arrested or charged. Below are some of the common causes of wrongful convictions in Texas and how we work to prevent them.
Many prosecutors rely heavily on witness identification of defendants to obtain a conviction, and juries tend to give significant weight to eyewitness testimony and identification. The problem is that many factors lead to errors when identifying suspects, including:
- Photo identification
In all three types of identification processes, law enforcement officers can use overly suggestive tactics and other improper methods that influence an eyewitness to make a wrongful identification. This can lead to another wrongful identification in court in front of the jury, which can lead to a wrongful conviction.
When prosecuting offices are gathering evidence against a defendant, they might acquire exculpatory evidence, as well, which is evidence that is favorable to the defendant. The law under Brady v. Maryland (1963) requires the prosecution to provide all exculpatory evidence to the defendant in any type of criminal case. Despite these clear requirements, some prosecutors still commit Brady violations, which can contribute to wrongful convictions.
Many types of evidence are processed by forensic labs, including both incriminating and exculpatory evidence. When forensic labs make mistakes, it can result in inaccurate evidence being presented in court. Some mistakes might include:
- Mislabeling evidence
- Testing and recording errors
- Breaks in the chain of custody
- Mishandling or improperly storing evidence
- Allowing evidence to be contaminated
When forensic experts testify regarding evidence, it is important for the defense to challenge their findings and identify potential errors and inaccuracies.
Not Having Proper Defense Representation
The criminal justice system does not favor defendants, and many unrepresented defendants end up with wrongful convictions. This is because they are not aware of their options or do not know how to develop and present a strong defense. Having an experienced lawyer on your side is the best way to prevent a wrongful conviction whenever possible.
Seek Assistance from a Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Immediately
The above are only some of many examples of why wrongful convictions occur. As a defendant, it can be challenging to identify possible prosecution errors or other factors that need to be challenged to avoid wrongful conviction. This is why it is critical to have experienced Collin County criminal defense attorney J. Michael Price II handling your case. Contact us online or call 214-765-8000 to discuss how we can help you.