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How often are people wrongfully accused of crimes in the United States?

On Behalf of | May 23, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Whether felony or misdemeanor, facing a criminal charge is a serious matter. The gravity of a charge often exists for years and years to come, impacting one’s personal life, mental health and financial and career goals. Therefore, challenging it is a must when individuals believe the charge ahead of them is unfair or entirely out of line.

Wrongful accusation statistics

The High Court reports that between two and 10% of imprisoned individuals in the U.S. are there based on a wrongful accusation. More specifically, between 46,000 and 230,000 of the 2.3 million people behind bars are innocent. Plus, since 1989, only 2,400 unlawful accusation charges experienced a reversal. This means if the maximum number of innocent people in prison is 230,000, only 0.01% of them have been set free over 33 years.

Reasons innocent people are in prison

So, now you may be wondering how far too many who’ve committed no crime aren’t free. According to the Equal Justice Initiative, here are some common reasons for wrongful convictions:

  • Witnesses aren’t honest or flat-out lie in court
  • Government officials don’t follow the official rules at the point of arrest or conviction
  • Flawed forensic science practices
  • Prejudiced and wrongful accusations based on race and mental capacity

Someone can also wind up unfairly in prison due to working with a lawyer that doesn’t have experience defending criminal offenses or is still new to the field.

Thankfully, selecting an attorney you’d like to lead your case and stand up for your rights is in your hands. Not having control of every aspect of your case can be nerve-wracking. But when years of prison are dangling above you, it’s vital to team up with a legal professional who wants the best for you and has represented similar clients.