It’s difficult to come up with accurate numbers of just how many people are falsely accused of a crime, when we really only take a second look at those who are convicted of serious crimes like rape and murder and who are sentenced to life in prison or given the death penalty. So all those who are in prison for car theft, burglaries or tax fraud… well, we will probably never know how many of those are innocents in jail. University of Michigan law professor, Samuel Gross did a study of how many of the over 7k inmates on death row between 1989 and 2006 were falsely accused and found that the number was over 4%. That’s almost 300 people who were facing the death penalty and shouldn’t have been. What he also found was that of those innocents, most of them were exonerated while on death row. Once a prisoner was moved off death row and their sentence was changed to life in prison, no one looked into their case and they were forgotten in the system.
Being falsely accused of a crime is no joke. As much as our legal system is based on justice and finding the truth, it doesn’t always work out that way. A person’s life can turn on something as simple as being wrongly identified by an eyewitness of a crime.
Here are a few things you should know to protect yourself if you find yourself falsely accused:
- You have a right under the constitution to be free from all violations of your civil rights which includes: false arrest; police violence or abuse; and false imprisonment.
- If you are arrested, you have an absolute right to a lawyer. Do not speak to the police without a lawyer present. There are police who are more interested in making an arrest than in your civil rights.
- Try to get the name and badge numbers of any police officers.
- You have the right to take a videotape of someone else being arrested. Videotapes have changed the course of civil rights in that now police corruption has been more exposed and the public understands that some police lie.
- If you are injured, make sure that you have the police make a report. You have the right to be taken to the hospital if assaulted by the police. Demand to be taken to the ER.
Finding the right attorney to represent you if you have been falsely arrested is critical to not only getting yourself out of custody but also getting your life back.
If you have been wrongfully arrested or falsely arrested, feel free to contact our NYC attorneys for a FREE consultation.