It is a bold statement, certainly, but it appears to be true, at least in terms of wrongful convictions. A new study has shown that there are 10 factors that are fairly common in wrongful convictions and one of the biggest is that when police and prosecutors want to convict someone of a crime in Minnesota, it is incredibly difficult for them to think of other reasons as to how the crime may have happened.
This kind of “tunnel vision” happens the most when there is some weak element that would destroy an otherwise strong case. Say, for example, that a Minneapolis woman claims to have been assaulted and identifies a man in a police lineup. Police start to investigate the man, finding that he had no alibi or was in the neighborhood when the assault allegedly happens. From there, prosecutors discover that the man had a criminal history, but that it doesn’t appear that he had been involved in anything illegal recently. From the prosecutor’s standpoint, this would be a strong case, but if that initial identification was in error, the case would fall apart. Trying to convince investigators or the jury of that, however, is difficult to do.
Some of the other things that may affect a wrongful conviction is whether the prosecution fails to turn over evidence to the defense. In order for a criminal defense attorney to properly or competently defend his or her client’s name, he or she needs to have access to the same evidence that the prosecution has. With the seriousness of some of these criminal charges, it is only fair that the defense knows of the evidence that the prosecution plans on using in the courtroom. When that evidence is withheld, however, it may lead to a wrongful conviction.
There are a variety of other factors that could potentially lead to a wrongful conviction in Minnesota courts, including the nature of the prosecution and defendant’s respective cases, the existence of forensic errors, or the criminal history of the defendant, among others. Fortunately, a criminal defense attorney can help to prevent wrongful convictions and defeating weak cases by the prosecution.
Source: Legal Times, “Study Reveals 10 Factors Common in Wrongful Convictions,” Mounira Al Hmoud, March 12, 2013
Find out more about the importance of having a criminal defense attorney when charged with a crime in Minnesota by visiting our website.