The justice system is specifically designed to keep innocent people from being convicted of a crime. The standard of proof is often so high that guilty people often go free. Many analysts see this as a fair tradeoff instead of innocent individuals getting wrongly convicted.
That said, we know that innocent people still do get convicted. We can now use DNA evidence to examine old cases, which has led to hundreds of overturned convictions.
This also implies that there could be thousands of wrongfully convicted defendants still locked up. There may be little to no evidence, or anything that was there might have been lost. Police detectives might have used poor investigation strategies in identifying a suspect or collecting evidence. These are just two of the many factors that could have resulted in an innocent person ending up behind bars.
But why do innocent defendants end up in jail in the first place? Why did a judge or jury end up convicting them?
The role of witness testimony in a criminal case
Witness testimony plays a big role in most criminal cases. Some studies have put it as high as 75%, so three out of every four wrongful convictions happen simply because the witness says something false or identifies the wrong person.
While there are likely cases where witnesses do this intentionally, the biggest problem is that they don’t even know they’re making a mistake. They think they’re honest and accurate, and so what they say comes out confidently. The jury doesn’t see why the witness would lie and convicts, even when the defendant asserts that they did nothing wrong.
If you’re facing charges, even when you know that you are completely innocent, you must know what steps to take so that you don’t find yourself facing a wrongful conviction yourself.