A Stacked Deck: Wrongful Convictions and Evidence Tampering
Tampering with evidence to force a conviction is a crime, but one that rarely visits a significant punishment on the prosecutors, law enforcement and judges that commit these offenses. The innocent go to jail. The guilty move on. Criminal defense lawyers in Pennsylvania struggle with the blinders public servants put themselves when they believe the person they’ve charged is the guilty party to the exclusion of all others. Justice may be blind, but her servants need to see straight or an accident is going to happen. Here’s why laws need to change, and change now.
Penalties for False Evidence are Light
Wrongly convict a man of a felony offense on false evidence, allow him to spend decades behind bars, and maybe get a misdemeanor charge for doing so. The criminal penalty for ruining someone’s life is so light it’s a farce, a laughable loophole in the Pennsylvania Criminal Code. Providing false reports or evidence to law enforcement is a second or third degree misdemeanor in the state (§ 4906) punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000 and imprisonment not to exceed two years. The total absence of real penalty for an injustice is staggering.
The Statute of Limitations is Too Short
After a wrongful conviction, the guilty have an uphill battle to have their appeals heard and the false evidence shown for what it truly is. Imagine a life where a runaway prosecutor has used made-up evidence and testimony to railroad you into prison for 10 or 20 years. There’s no presumption of innocence for the convicted. From the day, the jury renders its verdict, the burden shifts to the newly minted convict to disprove their culpability. Tough to do from inside a cell.
While there’s no statute of limitations on finding new evidence that frees the wrongly imprisoned, the SOL on holding the prosecutorial team accountable is painfully short – three years. Unlike medical malpractice or other personal injury claims, there’s no discovery rule to extend the statute for this offense. This means the clock on the statute can run out long before defense attorneys discover the misconduct. Authorities avoid criminal responsibility – again – because providing false testimony or evidence is only a misdemeanor.
Justice for the Wrongfully Convicted
For those who’ve lost years of their lives to wrongful convictions, legal teams work tirelessly crafting appeals and uncovering the tampering that swayed their juries to convict them in the first place. While a release from prison won’t bring back the disappeared years, it can begin to correct the terrible injustice done. We can also work to hold authorities civilly liable for their actions, up to and including disbarment. Something similar occurred in the aftermath of the Duke University lacrosse case where prosecutor Mike Nifong was disbarred for his conduct in levying serious rape charges at lacrosse players without real supporting evidence. The North Carolina State Bar would go on to file ethics charges against the former prosecutor. He served one day in jail, and paid a $500 fine, on a contempt of court charged related to his conduct in the Duke matter.
If you’ve been charged with a crime, you have rights to a rigorous defense to clear your name. Call a criminal defense lawyer today, and lay down the heaviest weight on your mind.
NO JAIL TIME
Commonwealth v. "H" (DUI case)
Client was charged with three separate DUI cases calling for mandatory minimum imprisonment of 90 days on each case. Client was advised to seek immediate intensive alcohol counseling. Client was sentenced to 1 year of house arrest after serving 3 days in the county prison.
Commonwealth v. "C" (Felony drug/Firearms case)
Client was charged with felony Delivery of drugs and illegal gun possession and was facing a mandatory 3-6 year prison sentence in the State prison system. Client was sentenced to one year of house arrest.
Commonwealth v. "S"
Client was charged with simple assault, domestic. After a hearing where evidence and testimony was presented, the entire case was dismissed by Judge Leonard Brown.
State of New Jersey v. "H"
Charges for young man charged with second degree aggravated assault were downgraded to third degree and he was accepted into the County Pretrial Intervention program with charges to be dismissed and record expunged after one year of misconduct free behavior.
OUR CRIMINAL DEFENSE TEAM INCLUDES TWO FORMER DISTRICT ATTORNEYS
We have decades of experience dealing with local police departments, prosecutors, and judges throughout southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Anyone facing charges involving a criminal offense can expect to experience a heightened degree of emotional turmoil, for themselves, as well as their family members. Our team of highly qualified criminal law attorneys and expert legal support staff are committed to providing each of our client’s with the compassion and understanding they deserve, as well as an aggressive plan for representation at an affordable price.
As former prosecutors, we have a balanced and in-depth understanding of the criminal justice system and how the prosecution prepares cases. In addition, we have long-standing experience dealing with local police departments, prosecutors and judges throughout southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
At Young, Marr and Associates, when we say “experience matters,” we mean it. Our lawyers, which include two former prosecutors and a former senior deputy district attorney bring more than three decades of criminal law experience, handling more than 10,000 criminal cases. It is precisely that experience that allows us to achieve outstanding results for our clients facing DUI, traffic, felony and misdemeanor charges in state, federal and juvenile courts.