New York Wrongful Conviction Lawyer
New York Wrongful Conviction Attorney
The wrongful conviction of a crime in New York can take many different forms, from prosecutorial misconduct to false confessions. If your due process right has been violated, or if you have been otherwise wrongfully accused, convicted, or incarcerated, it can take a toll on your wellbeing. Your mental, physical, emotional, and financial health may be negatively affected by a wrongful conviction. Wrongful convictions may also harm your family life, your employment, and can affect your prospects and connections to your friends, loved ones, and the overall community.
If you or someone you love has been wrongfully convicted, help is available. The civil rights team at Shulman & Hill combines our years of experience in the court system with our passion for protecting the rights of New Yorkers. We have successfully fought for the rights of wrongfully convicted and maliciously prosecuted New Yorkers throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens.
When is a Conviction Considered Wrongful?
Convictions may be considered wrongful when the person convicted is innocent of the charges, or procedural errors were made that violated their civil rights. The police are not infallible, and neither are prosecutors. For this reason, both United States and New York law assume that those accused of a crime are innocent until proven guilty.
This principle, called “presumption of innocence,” is one of the most basic requirements for a fair trial. Upholding it requires that a prosecutor be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed every element of the crime for which they are on trial. Even so, there are many reasons why a conviction may be overturned, or why you may want to pursue an appeal of a wrongful conviction.
Due Process Violations
Both the US Constitution and the New York State Constitution ensure that citizens have the right to due process. Due process is enshrined in both the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments in the US Constitution. The Fifth Amendment states that no one shall be deprived of “life, liberty, or property without due process of the law.” The Fourteenth Amendment continues to codify and expand upon the civil rights that are guaranteed to all Americans, stating, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Due process can mean many different procedures and expectations that the state and federal justice departments must follow when trying a crime. The following are examples of violations of your due process rights that could lead to a wrongful conviction:
- The attorney representing you made significant errors in your trial.
- You were not heard by an impartial judge or jury. Common examples of this involve jury selection that involves racial bias, thereby denying defendants of color the opportunity for a fair trial.
- Evidence was handled with improper lab proceedings that may have influenced its reliability.
Unfortunately, some prosecutors will do almost anything to secure a conviction, even when there is doubt about whether the defendant is truly guilty. Fortunately, the law offers some recourse as to what is considered prosecutorial misconduct. Any of these actions can lead to a wrongful conviction case:
- A prosecutor makes leading statements to the media that get back to a jury.
- A prosecutor makes false promises that lead to confessions or plea bargains under false pretenses.
- A prosecutor tampers with the evidence available in a case or does not turn in evidence that could help prove a suspect’s innocence.
Sometimes law enforcement may attempt to take advantage of the fear and confusion of suspects in order to elicit a confession. Even innocent individuals may falsely confess under these circumstances, particularly if they are threatened with the possibility of more severe penalties if they pursue a jury trial. Long interrogations, confusing questioning, a lack of understanding of the law, and threats of longer sentences may all cause someone to falsely confess to a crime they did not commit.
Implications of Wrongful Conviction
Being wrongfully convicted of a crime can lead to serious consequences for you and your family. You may miss out on years of important moments, face the loss of your job, discrimination in your community, and a lack of connections due to a wrongful conviction.
Only two other states in the US, Texas and Illinois, have more wrongful convictions overturned by DNA evidence than New York. Wrongful convictions in New York are unfortunately common and have serious consequences. Many of these wrongful convictions seem to be motivated by racial bias, with Black Americans most likely to be wrongfully convicted of murder in New York.
Examples of Wrongful Conviction Cases
Shulman & Hill’s Civil Rights Division has experience representing New Yorkers who have been wrongfully accused, convicted, and even incarcerated.
Barry Hall and Pharaoh Ferguson
Our Civil Rights Division, led by Partner Cary London, is currently representing two clients, Barry Hall and Pharaoh Ferguson, who spent three years on Rikers Island for a crime they did not commit. Geolocation data exonerated both clients of the 2018 murder of which they were wrongfully convicted, despite being available to law enforcement before their conviction.
Their case seeks to hold the NYPD accountable for the years they lost to wrongful incarceration on Rikers Island, as well as the pain and suffering they endured as a result. The traumatic conditions at Rikers Island cannot be understated, particularly for those who have been wrongfully convicted and deprived of their liberty without having committed a crime.
During Hall and Ferguson’s period of incarceration, geolocation cell phone evidence was available but went unused and unexplored by the police and prosecutor’s offices. Similar civil rights cases seek not only to recoup financial compensation for the emotional, physical, and mental suffering of those who have been wrongfully convicted but also to hold law enforcement accountable and reduce errors in the future.
One Shulman & Hill client, Prakash Churaman, was only 15 when he was arrested and spent roughly six years in custody, including on Rikers Island. His conviction was cleared in 2020 when an appeals court found that police coerced a false confession out of the then-teenager. The case to exonerate him hinged on the finding that a judge never allowed an expert witness on false confessions to be heard by the jury.
Shulman & Hill is helping him sue the NYPD for $25 million. While the sum can never replace his lost childhood, the years he spent deprived of liberty, the horrors he faced from wrongful incarceration, or the damage done to his mental health, it can help ensure his future is brighter than the past stolen from him by wrongful actions by law enforcement.
Call Our Wrongful Conviction Attorneys Today
If you or a loved one were wrongfully convicted, the consequences can be dire. Do not wait – speak to an attorney today. The team at Shulman & Hill is ready and waiting with a complimentary and confidential consultation to see if we can help you hold the police and prosecutors who have failed you accountable. We may be able to recover significant financial compensation to help set you up for success in the future.
Our Civil Rights Division is ready to help New Yorkers who have faced wrongful convictions sue for financial compensation and right the wrongs done by the justice system. If you need legal representation, reach out to our firm using our online contact form.
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