These are the most common causes of wrongful convictions.  Attorney Petro will help you fight back and get free.

Eyewitness Misidentification

Eyewitness misidentification refers to instances where a witness incorrectly identifies someone as the perpetrator of a crime. It is a significant problem in criminal justice systems worldwide and has been a contributing factor to wrongful convictions in many cases.

Several factors can contribute to eyewitness misidentification:

  1. Memory Distortion: Human memory is fallible and subject to distortion. Witnesses may unintentionally alter their memories over time, especially if they are exposed to suggestive information or leading questions.
  2. Stress and Anxiety: Witnesses to a crime may experience high levels of stress and anxiety, which can impair their ability to accurately recall details.
  3. Cross-Racial Identification: Studies have shown that people are generally better at recognizing faces of their own race than faces of other races. This can lead to misidentifications when the perpetrator is of a different race than the witness.
  4. Weapon Focus: When a weapon is present during a crime, witnesses may focus more on the weapon itself rather than on the perpetrator’s face or other identifying features.
  5. Lineup Procedures: The way lineups are conducted can influence eyewitness identification. For example, presenting a lineup where the suspect stands out or using suggestive techniques by law enforcement can lead to misidentifications.
  6. Confirmation Bias: Witnesses may feel pressured to identify a suspect or may be influenced by investigators, leading them to choose someone from a lineup even if they are not certain.

False Confessions

Occurs when individuals admit to committing a crime they did not actually commit. Despite being seemingly counterintuitive, false confessions are not uncommon and can happen for various reasons:

  1. Coerced Confessions: Sometimes, law enforcement officers may use coercive interrogation tactics, such as threats, promises of leniency, or prolonged questioning, which can lead innocent individuals to falsely confess to crimes they did not commit.
  2. Mental or Psychological Vulnerability: Certain individuals, such as those with mental illness or intellectual disabilities, may be more susceptible to suggestion and pressure during police interrogation, increasing the likelihood of providing a false confession.
  3. Misunderstanding or Confusion: Some individuals may confess to crimes they did not commit due to confusion, memory errors, or misunderstanding the seriousness of the situation, especially if they are young or have limited education.
  4. Desire for Attention or Notoriety: In some cases, individuals may falsely confess to gain attention, seek notoriety, or protect someone else they believe to be guilty.
  5. Fear of Consequences: Innocent individuals may falsely confess if they perceive that the consequences of maintaining their innocence (such as facing a lengthy trial or harsher punishment) outweigh the benefits of confessing, especially if they believe the evidence against them is strong.

Faulty Forensics

Refer to errors, biases, or inaccuracies in forensic science methods or analysis that can lead to incorrect conclusions or misleading evidence in criminal investigations or legal proceedings. This can result from unvalidated techniques, human error, subjectivity in interpretation, overstated certainty, misinterpretation of evidence, or bias. Efforts to address faulty forensics include improving scientific validity, implementing quality control measures, enhancing education and training, and promoting transparency and accountability in forensic practices.

Ineffective Lawyers

The Sixth Amendment ensures that individuals accused of crimes have the right to legal representation. This right is meaningful when the attorney meets a minimum standard of competence. Criminal defendants do not have the entitlement to the highest quality representation, but rather to representation that does not fall below an objective standard of reasonableness.

Police & Prosecutorial Misconduct

Numerous wrongful convictions stem from constitutional breaches perpetrated by the investigating police officers and/or prosecutors implicated in the cases. These actions can undermine the fairness of the criminal justice system and may lead to wrongful convictions, miscarriages of justice, or violations of individuals’ rights.

Unreliable & Paid Informants

In criminal trials, there exists a widespread system of exchange where incarcerated “informants” and paid sources offer testimony against both the guilty and innocent. These arrangements vary, ranging from promises of leniency, such as reduced sentences or other benefits, to simple rewards like a meal, although not all “informants” receive compensation.