While most police officers do their job correctly, uphold the law, and are upstanding public servants, some police officers abuse their position of power. Police misconduct is one of the leading sources of wrongful criminal convictions. A person could be convicted of a crime that they did not commit as a result of a police officer not doing their job ethically or correctly. This is called a wrongful conviction and it is a miscarriage of justice. An innocent person is convicted and sent to jail, losing months or years of their life over a crime that they did not commit.
Police misconduct that can produce a wrongful conviction can include actions such as:
- Lying about the circumstances surrounding the discovery of evidence, such as weapons or contraband;
- Lying about having probable cause to conduct a search or make an arrest;
- Falsely stating that a suspect dropped criminal evidence while fleeing police;
- Coercing confessions out of innocent suspects;
- Influencing a suspect’s or witness’s answers to questions during interrogations;
- Making up evidence to suit the officer’s desired outcome of an investigation;
- Manipulating police reports to get a targeted suspect or criminal charge; and
- Pressuring or intimidating witnesses into corroborating the police’s story.
Wrongful convictions are more frequent in criminal cases involving police testimony or evidence that was obtained by the police. This is because there is little that can be done to refute the evidence. A criminal defendant might be up against falsified or fabricated evidence, untruthful testimony, and malicious prosecution. Typical crimes that are more likely to involve police misconduct and these types of convictions include gun crimes, drug crimes, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace, and other crimes directed at police officers, such as assault and battery of law enforcement.
Most convictions are correct, and it is only a small fraction of criminal convictions that are wrongfully made due to police misconduct. But wrongful convictions are unacceptable and should not be tolerated because they place innocent people behind bars. A wrongful conviction can ruin the life of the victim. Victims lose years of their life, time with their families, and some victims might experience violence or psychological harm while in prison. Those who have endured a wrongful conviction at the hands of law enforcement may be entitled to compensation for their lost time and any harm that they have suffered.
Sometimes police officers go above the law and try very hard to pin a criminal conviction on a particular suspect, even though the suspect is innocent. Victims of wrongful convictions are victims of police misconduct, and these victims should consult with an experienced civil rights lawyer immediately. At Napoli Shkolnik, PLLC we work hard to get wrongfully convicted clients the justice they deserve. Contact us today to speak with one of our police misconduct lawyers.