New report: high number of exonerations in Texas, Dallas in particular

In the American system of justice, everyone accused of a crime has the right to a day in court, the right to a legal defense. Yet, even these rights do not guarantee a perfect system; sometimes prosecutors and police get it wrong.

Dallas DA Office helped overturn a number of wrongful convictions

The University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law work together to maintain a nationwide registry of exonerations. A report on the number of exonerations through the end of 2012 was recently issued.

With 114 exonerations since 1989, through the end of last year Texas had more exonerations than any other state except California. In slightly less than half of these exonerations – 53 – police or prosecutors played a major facilitating role. The track record of Texas authorities in helping to right miscarriages of justice is better than the national average; according to the registry, over the previous 24 years, nationwide only 30 percent of exonerations were supported by law enforcement.

Dallas has played a particularly important role in seeking¬†justice for the wrongfully convicted. The Dallas District Attorney’s Office established the nation’s first integrity unit in 2007, leading the way for other large jurisdictions. Approximately half of the 53 Texas exonerations that had the support of law enforcement were handled by the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office.

Mistakes by prosecutors or police can weaken the case against you

It is a good thing that the Dallas District Attorney’s Office and local Texas law enforcement officers are showing support for overturning wrongful convictions. Exonerations are more difficult to secure without law enforcement support, and there are few greater injustices than wrongfully putting a defendant behind bars. Yet, the fact that so many exonerations are needed in Dallas and the rest of Texas shows that prosecutors and police are making mistakes.

Mistakes made by law enforcement authorities have important implications for your case if you’ve been accused of a crime. For example, prosecutors may be mistaken about the facts of your case, accusing you of wrongful conduct that you did not engage in. Or, police may mistakenly violate your rights in gathering evidence; when this happens, such tainted evidence should be thrown out in court.

While it is admirable that some Texas prosecutors are taking steps to remedy past mistakes, such injustices should never have happened in the first place; those who are wrongly convicted should never have to spend a day behind bars.

If you’ve been accused of a crime, you need to expose any mistakes made by prosecutors or police in your case. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you do this. Contact a criminal defense attorney today to fight the charges against you.