Wrongful Conviction

A wrongful conviction settlement is a settlement offer made before the jury announces its verdict in the wrongful conviction case. A settlement is something that both you and the state must agree to sign off on (or settle for).

Causes Of Wrongful Convictions

The primary causes of wrongful conviction are often the result of misconduct by government officials.
Wrongful Conviction Explained

People are wrongfully convicted in the United States on a regular basis, causing great injustice. The only way to right this wrong, however, is to bring a case against the government where you were wrongfully convicted.

The Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) shares the following statistics: 

  • Official misconduct and false accusations are routinely the number one causes of wrongful convictions.
  • Official misconduct plays an even larger role in cases involving very serious crimes, such as murder. 
  • Of the 143 people exonerated in 2019, over half had been convicted of murder (3 faced death sentences, and many had been tried for crimes carrying capital punishment). The threat of a capital conviction is widely considered a handy tool for eliciting false confessions.
  • False accusations (or perjury) played a role in a whopping 70 percent of those convictions exonerated in 2019, which makes it the most decisive variable in these exonerations. 
  • Official misconduct by prosecutors, police, or other government agents is second only to false accusations. This misconduct most often takes the form of keeping exculpatory evidence (evidence that supports the defendant’s claim) out of the court and away from the jury.
  • The number of years lost to incarceration in 2019 was especially egregious, and between the 143 who were exonerated, a total of 1,908 years was lost to time behind bars. Two of those exonerated had been wrongfully imprisoned for more than 40 years each, and another had been on death row for 26 years.

Causes of wrongful convictions can take many forms, but some specific examples of the most common categories (according to the University of Michigan’s Innocence Clinic) include:

  • Faulty Eyewitness Testimony
  • False Confessions 
  • Inadequate Defense
  • Witness with ulterior motives.

Faulty Eyewitness Testimony

Although credible eyewitness testimony seems like it should be nearly foolproof, this is far from the case. Science supports the fact that our memories aren’t stored within our brains like a video that we can return to on command. While eyewitness testimony often plays an important part in criminal cases, memories must be preserved carefully to ensure they don’t become tainted. 

False Confessions

False confessions are a phenomenon that is difficult to comprehend but is, nevertheless, very real. These confessions are often the result of overzealous interview techniques that simply wear suspects down to the point that ending the interview is preferable to continuing to profess one’s actual innocence. 

Inadequate Defense 

To fight for your rights, you need an experienced and dedicated criminal defense attorney on your side. An ineffectual, inexperienced, and/or overworked defense attorney is less likely to forestall a false conviction. Public defenders are particularly prone to not having the time necessary to provide each case with the attention it deserves.

Witnesses with Ulterior Motives 

Sometimes, witnesses who come before the jury are there because they’ve been motivated by the prosecution to testify. Such motivation can come in the form of payment or a legal favor, but the jury may not know about the deal that’s been made. This can be a slippery legal slope. 

Often, multiple causes of wrongful conviction overlap before culminating in a case of wrongful conviction. 

Sometimes, these wrongful convictions come to light when new evidence surfaces. For example, if someone is wrongfully convicted of a violent crime, law enforcement may eventually discover and find the actual perpetrator. Sadly, in many cases, this new evidence comes to light after many years. In the best cases, it happens rather quickly, but the wrongfully convicted individual was still punished for a crime that he or she did not commit.

Although many wrongful convictions involve cases in which people were wrongfully arrested and prosecuted for crimes they did not commit, the National Institute of Justice also notes that wrongful convictions may also involve procedural mistakes that violated a convicted individual’s rights.

A recent study of several wrongful conviction cases revealed that some examples of wrongfully convicted crimes included:

  • Sexual offenses, including rape and sexual assault
  • Breaking and entering
  • Homicide, as well as attempted homicide
  • Burglary

Those who were wrongfully convicted are not the only people who are affected, either. In many cases, the victims of the crimes feel the impact as well. They may feel shock and fear to learn that these individuals, the ones who were initially found to be guilty in the crimes against them, were exonerated.

Settlement Cases We Fund

Most Common Wrongful Convicted Cases

Although many wrongful convictions involve cases in which people were wrongfully arrested and prosecuted for crimes they did not commit, the National Institute of Justice also notes that wrongful convictions may also involve procedural mistakes that violated a convicted individual’s rights.
Wrongful Conviction Cases

A wrongful conviction is a devastating event. Unfortunately, it happens more often than we’d like to believe. If you have been wrongfully convicted, there is good chance that you are dealing with significant financial problems. Wrongful convictions often result in job loss and the depletion of personal assets Fortunately, USClaims can provide people with pending wrongful conviction cases with litigation funding to help them meet their immediate financial needs. To learn whether you qualify, call us today to discuss your case with a member of our team.

Common Causes of Wrongful Convictions

According to the University of Michigan’s Innocence Clinic, some of the common causes of wrongful convictions are the following:

  • Misidentification by Eyewitnesses
  • False Confessions Made by Suspects
  • Science that Doesn’t Hold Up
  • Misconduct by the Government
  • Inadequate Legal Counsel
  • The Testimony of Snitches

Misidentification by Eyewitnesses 

While eyewitness testimony was once the gold standard as far as evidence is concerned, eyewitness misidentification is now considered one of the most prevalent causes of wrongful convictions. Research highlights the fact that our minds don’t work like video cameras, and we don’t remember incidents exactly as they occurred (as if we are viewing a video of the event in question). Eyewitness testimony can play an important role in criminal cases, but witnesses’ memories must be carefully retrieved and preserved to help ensure that they don’t become contaminated. 

False Confessions Made by Suspects 

As difficult as it is to grasp, suspects do sometimes confess to crimes they didn’t commit. This is often the result of the suspect weighing the outcome of continuing to profess his or her innocence against confessing and being done with the matter. This is often a testament to the overly taxing and intimidating practices that are sometimes used in the interview process.  

Science that Doesn’t Hold Up

Some forensic testing methods end up being nothing more than junk science, and some forms that are currently applied regularly aren’t supported as robustly by scientific data as they should be. In other words, the evidence that the prosecutor uses to convict you may not actually signify what it is purported to signify (or may not be especially reliable). Further, some forensic experts provide testimonies that amount to professional misconduct. 

Misconduct by the Government 

Sometimes, a governmental entity will endeavor to convict a defendant – even if the evidence doesn’t support such a finding (or even if there is clear and convincing proof of the defendant’s innocence). 

Inadequate Legal Counsel

Many attorneys have heavy workloads (especially public defenders), and if they allow this fact to interfere with their commitment to crafting their client’s best possible defense, it can lead to wrongfully convicted cases. 

The Testimony of Snitches

Sometimes juries hear testimony from people who have an ulterior motive (such as payment or favors provided by the prosecution), even as the jury remains unaware of this fact. When the primary evidence used to convict comes from an informant who is incentivized to testify, it can lead to a highly suspect verdict. 

Common Forms of Wrongful Convictions

The Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) reports that official misconduct and false accusations remain the primary cause of wrongfully convicted cases and that these nefarious factors are most prevalent in cases involving more serious charges. In 2019 alone, 143 men and women were legally exonerated after wrongful convictions in the U.S., and more than half had been charged with homicide (3 of whom had been sentenced to death and others who had been tried for capital crimes). The threat of the death penalty is believed to help generate false confessions. 

Educational Resources

State & Federal Civil Rights

How Common Are Wrongful Convictions?

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How Do Wrongful Conviction Settlements Work?

If you’ve been wrongfully convicted and subsequently exonerated, the only justice you can seek is through a lawsuit against the state that convicted you. If you prevail at court, you will walk away with either a settlement offer that you sign off on or a court award.
Wrongful Conviction Settlement

Being convicted of and serving time for a crime you didn’t commit is a travesty that shouldn’t happen to anyone, but unfortunately, these wrongful convictions do happen. If you’ve been wrongfully convicted and subsequently exonerated, the only justice you can seek is through a lawsuit against the state that convicted you. If you prevail at court, you will walk away with either a settlement offer that you sign off on or a court award.

Unfortunately, however, wrongful convictions have a way of leaving people with significant financial problems. A criminal case and subsequent conviction can often result in the loss of a job and the significant depletion of assets. In fact, many people who have been wrongfully convicted have trouble meeting their basic financial needs. This is where pre-settlement funding from USClaims comes into play. We provide you with the funds you need to meet your immediate needs, and these funds purchase a portion of your settlement or court award in the event that your case prevails. To find out if you qualify, call us today to speak with a dedicated litigation funding specialist.

Wrongful Conviction Settlements

A wrongful conviction settlement is a settlement offer made before the jury announces its verdict in the wrongful conviction case. A settlement is something that both you and the state must agree to sign off on (or settle for). This compensation is intended to address the time you lost to incarceration, the financial damages you suffered, and the pain and suffering you endured. If no settlement is reached, the jury will make the final determination, and if you prevail, the court will typically award you the amount handed down by the jury. 

Pre-Settlement Funding Is Not a Loan

Many people understand pre-settlement funding as a loan that you pay back upon the close of your case, but this isn’t how this funding works. There is obviously no guarantee that you will come away from your court case with a fair settlement offer or court award, but you are much more likely to do so if you have a dedicated wrongful conviction attorney on your side, which involves considerable legal costs. 

Pre-settlement funding is made as an investment in relation to the strength of your case. If you were wrongfully convicted, were exonerated, and have a viable wrongful conviction claim, pre-settlement funding provides you with funds to meet your immediate financial needs in exchange for an investment in your wrongful conviction settlement or award. To put it more simply, the pre-settlement funding company doesn’t see a return on its investment if your case fails to end in a settlement or court award, but if you do obtain a settlement or award, the pre-settlement funding company will receive a predetermined portion of that amount as its return on investment. 

You Need a Wrongful Conviction Attorney in Your Corner

Spending time behind bars for a crime you didn’t commit is a travesty of nearly unbelievable proportions. While no amount of compensation can return the time you lost or negate the pain you suffered, just compensation in the form of a settlement or court award is important and can help you move forward with the financial support you need. Generally, the elements necessary to bring a successful wrongful conviction case include the following:

  • You were convicted of perpetrating one or more felonies and/or misdemeanors, were sentenced to time behind bars, and served at least part of your jail or prison sentence.
  • You were pardoned of the crime in question on the grounds of your innocence, or you were pardoned because your conviction was either reversed or vacated, and the original accusation was dismissed (some other specific scenarios can also apply).
  • You did not commit the crime for which you were convicted. 
  • Your conduct did not cause you to be convicted of the crime. 

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Wrongfully Convicted? Think You Have a Case?

Call us toll-free at (877) USClaims to speak with a friendly funding specialist today.

How To Get Help When Wrongfully Convicted?

Pre-settlement funding help victims of wrongful convictions bridge the gap while their claims are pending. These funds are an investment in the wrongful conviction case.
How to get help when wrongfully convicted

Being wrongfully convicted is such an injustice that it’s difficult to adequately address the damage wrought. If you were charged and convicted of a crime you didn’t commit and were later exonerated, you may be facing significant financial problems. A wrongful conviction is often accompanied with the loss of a job or business and the significant depletion of personal assets.

Work Closely with an Experienced Wrongful Conviction Attorney

If you’re a victim of a wrongful conviction and wonder how to get help, the first order of business is consulting with an experienced wrongful conviction attorney who will help you better understand the strengths and challenges of your case and how best to proceed. The following may be considered in determining whether you have a viable wrongful conviction claim:

  • You were convicted of at least one misdemeanor and/or felony; sentenced to serve time in prison, and have served at least part of that sentence.
  • The state pardoned you for the crime you were convicted of, or your conviction or charges were reversed, vacated, or dismissed.
  • You did not commit the crime of which you were accused.
  • Your conduct did not lead to your conviction.

Wrongful conviction claims are highly complicated and require a thorough understanding of the law. For this reason, the best way to get help after a wrongful conviction is to retain an experienced lawyer with a track-record of success handling cases similar to yours.

The Damages Wrought by a Wrongful Conviction

The damages associated with a wrongful conviction can be devastating. The following may be damages you may suffer as a victim of wrongful conviction:

  • If you are incarcerated, you are likely to lose the property and assets that belonged to you prior to your conviction (much of which may have gone toward your legal defense).
  • If you are incarcerated, you may lose important relationships in your life, including with your spouse and children.
  • After a conviction, your social status and reputation are prone to irreparable damage that can make your post-exoneration life extremely difficult.
  • If you are incarcerated, you’ll almost certainly lose your career, and finding gainful employment once you’ve been exonerated is not likely to be easy. 
  • Many people encounter health concerns in prison that they likely wouldn’t have encountered outside of prison, including mental health issues that are predicated on the stress associated with wrongful convictions. With the COVID-19 global pandemic at large – and hitting institutions like prisons hardest of all – this concern is even more prevalent. 

Ultimately, time that you spent behind bars can never be returned to you, but it can be carefully addressed in your wrongful conviction case. 

News and Tips

Where to Find Wrongful Conviction Specialized Lawyers

Every car accident settlement where somebody is granted money, considers a few elements. This includes the seriousness of the injury, kind of clinical treatment, the length of recovery time, and conceivable long term impacts of the individual injuries.​

If you were wrongfully convicted of a crime and served time for that conviction, you’ve suffered a terrible wrong. Often, the only remedy you may have to right that wrong is bringing a wrongful conviction claim in the state where you were convicted. These cases, however, can take up to years to resolve and, in the meantime, you may be having trouble meeting even your most basic financial needs.

Wrongful Conviction Lawyers

Wrongful convictions are especially difficult circumstances that leave the wrongfully convicted in a precarious financial and social situation. While wrongful conviction awards may help, these are complex cases that are best handled by a lawyer who specializes in wrongful convictions. An experienced lawyer may help a victim obtain just compensation for the terrible wrong resulting from a wrongful conviction.

Finding the Right Attorney for You

If you were wrongfully convicted, you’ve been through a grueling ordeal, and now you need to find a lawyer who can help, but you may not know where to turn. Doing some legwork before hiring a wrongful conviction lawyer can make a significant difference in your case. You may want to consider the following characteristics for the lawyer who will take on your wrongful conviction case: 

  • An attorney who has experience in litigating wrongful conviction cases
  • An attorney who is personally interested in the details and the outcome of your case
  • An attorney who carefully goes over your case with you and explains its strengths and challenges and who goes into detail about how he or she would expect your case to proceed
  • An attorney with whom you feel comfortable sharing a very difficult experience 
  • An attorney who has the time, the legal team, and the resources to give your case the legal attention it deserves
  • An attorney who understands the full measure of damages you’ve suffered as a result of your wrongful conviction.

It can seem intimidating but putting in the work to find the right attorney for you and your case will help ensure that you are headed in the right direction from the start. Best of all, most wrongful conviction attorneys take their cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that you can retain qualified legal representation without having to pay for legal help up front.

What Can Litigation Funding Help With?

You may be wondering how you can use litigation funding. It is meant to help you cover your day-to-day expenses during the period that your case is pending. As such, it can be used for:

  • Rent and mortgage payments
  • Utilities
  • Groceries
  • Tuition
  • Other living expenses

In many cases, litigation funding is used to prevent foreclosure or eviction, ensuring that people who were wrongfully convicted do not lose their homes or other important assets.

USClaims transactions aren’t loans. Like other pre-settlement funding providers, USClaims works by purchasing a portion of the anticipated settlement of a case. In doing so, USClaims assumes all the risk; if the plaintiff loses the case, USClaims does not get its money back. If the plaintiff wins the case, the plaintiff’s attorney pays USClaims directly from the proceeds of the settlement.

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Wrongful Conviction Common Questions

A 2018 study out of the University of Pennsylvania found that approximately 6 percent of convictions overall are wrongful convictions…

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