The criminal justice system exists to make sure that citizens of Colorado are kept safe. Whenever a criminal case goes to trial, it is up to the court and the jury to make decisions that will ensure the welfare of the greater public. Usually, this means convicting guilty individuals and exonerating innocent ones. Unfortunately, this system sometimes makes mistakes.
As The Denver Channel reported, a Denver man has recently been released from jail after serving two months of a sentence for a crime that he did not commit. In this case, the police were sure that they had arrested the right man because they claimed they had DNA evidence that linked him the crime scene. This was a sexual assault case, and usually DNA evidence in these types of cases is indisputable.
But according to the police now, “the man’s DNA was improperly identified by the Lab Tech.” The man has been released and an apology has been issued by the Denver Police Department, who claim that they are doing everything to ensure that a mistake like this does not happen again.
But what if it does?
The Dangers of Wrongful Convictions
Even though law enforcement agencies exist to ensure communal peace and keep everyone safe, sometimes mistakes are made. Unfortunately, almost any crime can result in a wrongful conviction—both misdemeanors and felonies alike.
Some common reasons for wrongful convictions include:
- Misidentifications from eyewitnesses
- False confessions
- Faulty or inaccurately interpreted evidence
- Misconduct on the part of government or law officials
To an extent, these mistakes can be understandable—as long as humans are in charge of these types of things, there is a chance that mistakes will be made. Human error is unavoidable. However, when someone’s life is on the line, these errors should not be tolerated. They are unforgivable and should be impermissible.
Wrongful convictions can cost a person everything. They can ruin an individual’s life, and more than that, they can ruin things for his or her entire family. A wrongful conviction may have repercussions for years and perhaps generations. Innocent mothers and fathers may be separated from their children for years, and young daughters and sons could be taken from their parents.
Luckily, steps are being taken to fight back against wrongful convictions. With new technology such as DNA testing, men and women who have been unjustly serving time for crimes that they did not commit finally have some hope. So far, DNA exonerations have cleared the names of 329 men and women who had been wrongfully convicted.
Protect Yourself Against Wrongful Convictions
The state of Colorado does have compensation statutes for individuals who were wrongfully imprisoned. Legally, this means that once you are released and the government formally admits that a mistake was made, you are entitled to reimbursement, including monetary compensation and the provision of services such as medical care and affordable housing.
But even if a wrongfully convicted individual is eventually exonerated, there is no way for him or her to get back the time that he or she has lost. If you have been wrongfully convicted of a crime, make sure that you do everything in your power to fight back against the people who took so much from your life. Don’t waste time—get the compensation that you are legally entitled to. Contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer and start taking steps to rebuild your life.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.