Could New Technology Free the Innocent in Minnesota Criminal Cases?

New DNA technology is helping to exonerate many prisoners who were wrongfully convicted for crimes they did not commit.

Justice for Wrongfully Convicted Prisoners

Cutting edge DNA technology is responsible for the freedom of many innocent people wrongfully incarcerated in criminal cases. A sophisticated computer program developed by Cybergenetics, a California company, is being used to exonerate prisoners around the world. The program, called TrueAllele, was created by a technician with a medical degree and a PhD in computer science. It uses algorithms to analyze and breakdown small amounts of remaining DNA evidence from crime scenes.

In 2006, TrueAllele DNA technology was first used in a murder investigation which found incriminating evidence under the victim’s fingernails. The FBI lab estimated a 1 in 13,000 chance that the evidence did belong to their prime suspect in the murder case. Since then, the technology has been used in criminal court cases in 14 states to clear wrongfully convicted prisoners, some who served more than 20 years in prison. To date, new DNA technology has freed 367 wrongfully convicted prisoners, of which 41 served time for crimes they did not commit and 21 were on death row awaiting execution.

In a recent highly publicized case, a man was exonerated and freed from prison after serving a 36-year sentence behind bars. In 1982, Archie Williams was convicted of sexual assault and rape and first-degree murder when he was just 22 years old. Although crime scene fingerprints did not match, witnesses did not identify him in two different line ups, and people testified he was at home asleep at the time of the crime, Archie Williams was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

The Innocence Project

With help from The Innocence Project and criminal defense lawyers, wrongfully convicted prisoners have renewed hope of release. The Innocence Project began fighting for Archie Williams in 1995, more than two decades before he was finally released at age 58. New TrueAllele DNA technology provided a method of forensic testing that proved Mr. William’s innocence and released him from prison. 

When the Innocence Project took Archie William’s case, Louisiana did not allow DNA testing for convicted prisoners. Legal issues with state laws, DNA technology, and fingerprint testing prevented his release. The Innocence Project played a major role in implementing new DNA technology and Next Generation Identification, a new type of fingerprint testing system that helped to release hundreds of innocent prisoners.

He has won jury trial cases in misdemeanor and felony cases and in DWI’s and non-DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. He is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

Minnesota’s new marijuana law legalizes marijuana for recreational purposes for adults 21 years or older. The new law makes it unlawful for employers to take action against their employees for off-duty cannabis use. It also prohibits them from refusing to hire an applicant who tests positive for cannabis or requiring applicants to take pre-employment cannabis testing.
Is weed legal in Minnesota? Currently, weed is legal for medical and recreational use in the state. A new Minnesota law legalized weed for recreational use on August 1, 2023. Persons aged 21-years or older may possess or carry a maximum of two ounces of marijuana flower in public.
People arrested or accused of possessing cocaine might ask, “how much coke is a felony?” Possessing controlled substances like cocaine is a felony in Minneapolis, MN. If found with 0 to 3 grams of coke, the crime will be treated as a fifth-degree felony, attracting penalties like $10,000 fines and up to 5 years in jail.