We have all seen at least one movie about a prisoner on death row fighting to prove his innocence. This story line makes for riveting drama, but for the thousands of people who go to jail for a crime they did not commit, the experience is a long nightmare — and it happens more often than you think.
The Center on Wrongful Convictions recently launched a website that tracks how many prisoners have their convictions overturned. Since 1989, there have been 891 exonerations based on DNA evidence. But these represent only a small percentage of wrongful convictions, including violent felonies and non-violent charges. Other experts estimate that the rate is between 4 and 6 percent, with up to 136,000 innocent people behind bars.
This news does not surprise experienced criminal defense attorneys who have represented clients after they incriminated themselves during an interrogation. Getting questioned for a crime you did not commit is a shocking experience. Many people assume they can clear things up by cooperating with law enforcement without a lawyer present. This is never a good idea. Prosecutors can use any voluntary written or oral statement against you — and they often do, especially if they are misled by false evidence or perjured witness statements.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Sarasota County, make sure you have a seasoned defense attorney is at your side through every step of the process.