Chicago Wrongful Conviction Lawyer
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As Chicago wrongful conviction lawyers, we understand that very few cases are as emotional as a wrongful conviction. Spending days, months – and even years – behind bars for an offence you did not commit is nothing short of a nightmare that no one should suffer.
Wrongful conviction is what happens when a person is convicted by a judge, jury or other court of law for a crime when they are in fact innocent.
Although this sounds like something that should never happen in a society with a functional legal system, it is something that sadly happens all the time in the United States. And it happens far more often than it should. According to the Innocence Project, up to 5% of people who are convicted of crimes may be innocent.
Getting incarcerated while being innocent is often a devastating tragedy. A victim of wrongful conviction loses so much, they may never be able to completely recover. For many, such incarceration becomes a ruinous life event. Some lose cordial relationships with their family. It becomes difficult to get a job. Getting back the life that once existed becomes very difficult.
Remedying all the damage done by a wrongful conviction can be impossible. But there are a number of legal remedies that can at least cater for some loss. At Uche PC, we can help you fight this injustice and recover financial compensation for you.
If you have been falsely charged and convicted for a criminal offense, contact one of the very best Chicago wrongful conviction attorneys at Uche PC as soon as you can.
The legal team at Uche PC stands for justice and has been providing quality and successful legal representation for victims of wrongful conviction in Chicago. Get in touch with us here or call our experienced Chicago wrongful conviction lawyer at 888-251-4428 as soon as possible.
Common causes of wrongful conviction
The wrongful conviction of just one person is one too many. Sadly, in many of these cases, a drive to achieve justice ends up only creating victims. In Chicago and the rest of the United States, there are a number of ‘unjustified’ reasons a person may have been wrongfully charged and incarcerated for a crime they didn’t commit. The common ones are identified here.
According to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS), more than 75 percent of DNA exoneration cases involve convictions based on mistaken identification evidence.
This is by far the leading cause of wrongful convictions in the United States. A number of reasons may induce an eyewitness who wrongly identifies a person. None of them however justifies the trauma that the wrongfully accused person faces as a result of such an anomaly.
Faulty forensic evidence
Forensic evidence has helped put a lot of rightly accused persons behind bars. The debate however continues as to whether or not forensic science is an ‘exact’ science. This becomes more highlighted in the cases of people who were convicted based on forensic evidence, whereas they were innocent.
Whether it is the science or the human error in the science, what is known is that faulty forensic science has wrongfully incarcerated innocent persons. The use of non-validated forensic science (hair and fiber comparison or bite-mark analysis) were used in over 50 percent of convictions. These convictions were later overturned by the use of DNA evidence.
A substantial part of wrongful convictions are also caused because the victims made incriminating statements against themselves. In those instances, the victim may have been induced or forced to confess or plead guilty to a crime they know nothing of.
Forceful interrogation techniques and poor mental health of the accused have also been known to contribute to false confessions.
Testimony of jailhouse informants
Bias from jailhouse ‘informants’ is another major reason we have wrongful convictions. This has been the cause of about 15 percent of overturned convictions. The ‘carrot’ offered to jailhouse informants for their testimony has led many of them to point accusing fingers at the wrong persons or give false testimony. In many cases, the prospect of reduced sentences may induce an informant to say ‘whatever is needed’ without considering that the life of an innocent person is at stake.
Police and prosecutorial misconduct
‘Human error’ can scarcely be severed from criminal justice. Even though the majority of law enforcement officers and prosecutors are honest, the occurrence of negligence, misconduct and corruption is still a prevalent problem.
In many wrongful conviction cases, law enforcement officials and prosecutors become ‘obsessed’ with securing a conviction instead of focusing on justice. The resulting act of negligence, fraud or misconduct has caused the unjust incarceration of many innocent victims.
The quality or experience of the attorney plays a major role in the possible outcome of any case, and this is even more so in criminal matters.
In many instances, an ineffective defense attorney can inadvertently cause the wrongful conviction of an innocent person. Failure to adequately prepare for trial, investigate the crime, make the alibi of the defendant waterproof, or cross-examine witnesses and experts can all guarantee a wrongful conviction.
The unjust challenges wrongfully convicted persons face after exoneration
Countless innocent victims continue to spend time behind bars in the country. This in itself is a gross injustice and threat to the criminal justice system.
The Crime Report indicates that there are now on average more than three exonerations every week. For the innocent spending time behind bars, this is horrible. And when exonerated, many of these individuals are alone, trying to pick up the pieces and rebuild the life lost.
The challenges faced by these innocent exonerated individuals are countless. Some of the most pressing ones include:
Even after being declared innocent, many wrongful conviction victims still suffer the stigma of being a ‘convict’. While this shouldn’t be so, the loss of reputation is one of the major challenges innocent victims face. Mending the damaged reputation or rebuilding trust with friends, family and acquaintances is often difficult in a lot of cases.
Loss of companionship
Time spent behind bars can never be regained. Perhaps one of the things that hurts most is the loss of companionship of close family members and friends. For wrongfully convicted persons with kids, it may even be more traumatic.
Visitation time can never be enough. The loved ones of innocent victims are forced to move on and ensure the preventable unfortunate incident.
Severe mental health issues
The trauma of spending time behind bars for a crime one didn’t commit is unimaginable. Coupled with the other challenges, wrongfully convicted persons are prone to short-term or long-term emotional and mental health problems.
Lack of education and adequate job skills
Spending years away for wrongful incarceration rips one’s youthful years away. For young people wrongfully convicted, the years they should’ve spent furthering their education or acquiring job skills have already been wasted away behind bars.
This becomes a damaging reality when they finally get exonerated of the crime they knew nothing about.
Limited education, lack of adequate job skills, lost time for personal development etc. These are all factors that eventually culminate to a life of financial hardship for the exonerated victim.
Struggling to make ends meet becomes a daily reality. This is one of the tragic injustices that wrongfully convicted persons have to face even after being exonerated of the charge.
At Uche PC, our Chicago wrongful conviction lawyers will not let you go through another moment of trauma. We will use every legal means to aggressively fight for your legal rights and recover financial compensation for all the injustice done to you.
Making a wrongful conviction claim in Chicago
In Chicago, as with the rest of Illinois, the rights of a wrongfully convicted person are guaranteed by law.
For one, a victim of wrongful conviction has a right to petition for a certificate of innocence. This will declare the petitioner innocent of all the wrongful incarceration charges.
Importantly, as a vindicated person, you also have the right to file a claim for compensation at the Court of Claims Chicago.
To make a wrongful conviction claim, a person must have been incarcerated and then be proven innocent of the crime that they were charged for. The other conditions include proving that:
- Whole or part of the term of imprisonment have been served;
- The indictment or conviction violated the constitution of the United States or the laws of the State of Illinois;
- The victim was pardoned upon the grounds of innocence; or
- The judgment was vacated or reversed, or that the charges were dismissed;
- The claimant was not found guilty at a new trial;
- The victim did not voluntarily cause or bring about the wrongful conviction conviction.
Proving these conditions will require the innocent victim to tender convincing evidence in support of the claims. Anyone found to be wrongfully accused of a crime is entitled to financial compensation and damages.
NOTE: In Chicago, the petition for certificate of innocence and wrongful conviction claims must be filed within 2 years after dismissal of indictment or acquittal.
Common wrongful conviction cases
Other than the statutory compensation a wrongfully convicted person is entitled to, a civil lawsuit may also be instituted to remedy the injustice done.
The wide range of wrongful conviction cases the Chicago wrongful convictions lawyers at Uche PC are ready to take on include:
- False arrest or imprisonment,
- Malicious prosecution
- Intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress,
- Violations of due process rights (Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments),
- Coerced confession,
- Police misconduct/brutality,
- Tainted or mishandled evidence, among others.
In any one of these civil lawsuits, a claim may be filed against any or all of the parties found to have been responsible for the wrongful conviction.
If you’ve been wrongfully incarcerated or you’ve suffered one of the above injustices, the wrongful conviction legal team at Uche PC is ready to right such a wrong.
Schedule a free consultation here or call our Chicago wrongful conviction lawyers today at 888-251-4428.
Damages or financial compensation in wrongful conviction cases
The compensation a wrongfully convicted person is entitled to will be determined by the Illinois Court of Claims.
Depending on the case and the number of years spent in incarceration, damages from wrongful convictions can run into millions of dollars. The financial compensation you’re entitled to will generally cover:
- Loss of time and liberty;
- Loss of companionship and consortium;
- Psychological injuries that may have been suffered during the incarceration;
- Physical injuries suffered during your incarceration;
- Emotional distress or pain and suffering; and
- Economic damages incurred as a result of the wrongful conviction.
The amount of compensation to be received no doubt varies from one case to another. The damages will be determined by the severity of the wrongful conviction, the time served in incarceration, and other actual damage/injury suffered.
The federal government and thirty (30) states have statutes that mandate the financial compensation of people who are wrongfully convicted.
In Chicago, the statutory compensation to be awarded to victims of wrongful conviction – as provided by the Court of Claims Act – can be:
- Up to a total of $85,350 for imprisonment of 5 years or less;
- Up to a total of $170,000 for imprisonment of 14 years or less but over 5 years; and
- Up to a total of $199,150 for imprisonment of over 14 years.
As mentioned earlier, other than the statutory damages to the awarded, a civil lawsuit may also be initiated. The damages that a wrongfully convicted person may receive is usually more than the one provided through the court of claims.
Get in touch with our Chicago wrongful conviction lawyer today
Wrongful convictions are one of the worst and shameful enduring legacies of the criminal justice system.
Seeking the services of an experienced Chicago wrongful conviction lawyer can make a difference. In wrongful conviction cases, you’ll need a legal team that can aggressively fight for your rights and recover the financial compensation you deserve for you.
Attorney Uche has garnered a national reputation as a fierce deal-closer, litigator, and trial attorney. He is currently recognized as a Top 40 lawyer under 40 by the National Trial Lawyers and he has been selected for inclusion in the Illinois Super Lawyers Rising Stars list.
At Uche P.C, we have the capability and the will to expose the truth. We will stand by you and file a claim against all the parties responsible for your wrongful conviction.
As former prosecutors, the legal team at Uche P.C has the forensic ability to navigate through the usual cover-ups that often manifests in wrongful conviction cases.
Get in touch with us here for a free consultation or call us at 888-251-4428 as soon as possible.
Beyond focusing on police brutality and malicious prosecution cases, our firm also focuses on other forms of personal injury such as:
- Personal Injury
- Car Accidents
- Truck Accidents
- Nursing Home Abuse
- Medical Malpractice
- Birth Injury
- Police Brutality
Call us immediately at: (312) 380.5341, if you or your loved one has suffered any injury as a result of a motor accident!
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