If the police charge you with a crime, you might place your faith in the justice system. You might assume all you need to do is show up in court, and the judge will see that the police have made a mistake and send you on your way.
Sadly, there is no guarantee that being innocent means a court will dismiss the charges against you. The police and prosecutors like to get results, which can sometimes lead to convictions even when defendants are innocent.
A recent study by the National Registry of Exonerations (NRE) found that 54% of wrongful convictions were due to misconduct by police and prosecutors. Most of the cases involved people wrongly convicted of violent crimes. While police and prosecutors may face more pressure to secure a conviction in such crimes than, say, theft or DUI cases, it shows you can never be too confident when charged with a crime.
What does police or prosecutor misconduct look like?
The NRE found the misconduct took several forms:
- Improper behavior in the interview: There are ways to get people to say what you want or to influence the answer they give.
- Inventing evidence: It is easy to plant evidence in your vehicle or home.
- Concealing evidence: They have evidence that points to your innocence but do not share it with your defense team.
- Witness tampering: Some people will say they saw in return for a reduction in their sentence.
It is imperative to get legal help as soon as the police arrest you. The longer you try to go it alone and trust in the law, the more chance someone takes advantage of your innocence to persuade a court you are guilty.