Articles Tagged with wrongful conviction

javier-villaraco-235574-copy-300x225If you have had to serve a prison sentence, then you know the significant emotional and psychological toll you and your family have had to endure, not to mention the loss in terms of time and money. In Chicago, unfortunately, too many citizens are being jailed for crimes they did not commit. The city currently is dealing with dozens of cases from the past in which citizens were wrongly convicted and imprisoned. At the same time, innocent victims, with the help of experienced attorneys, can pursue justice and potentially receive lucrative payouts from the city for having their rights violated years or even decades prior.

The Implications of a Wrongful Conviction

Legally speaking, when police officers arrest and prosecute someone for a crime in Chicago, the law requires probable cause. Yet, too often, the city’s law enforcement officers engage in false arrests, malicious criminal prosecution, and wrongful convictions. As a result, too many innocent people end up spending months and sometimes years in prison for crimes they did not commit.

javier-villaraco-235574-copy-300x225If you have been following the news in Chicago lately, then you know that too many citizens have been wrongly convicted over decades and are now just beginning to receive justice. Recently, the city vacated 15 convictions of innocent citizens that were framed by the Chicago Police Department.

In the event of a wrongful conviction, you and your family have likely lost precious time and financial resources for years and even decades. However, rest assured that you have rights and that you are entitled by law to claims for past and future financial compensation for the injustice you endured. Learn what you can do to file a claim and how a law firm can facilitate the process for you in receiving the financial compensation you deserve.

What is the Significance of a Wrongful Conviction?

DSC_0289Our system of law and order works pretty well, most of the time. After an arrest, it is up to the prosecutor to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the accused is the perpetrator of the crime. The defendant is entitled to be judged by his peers, and he is entitled to be represented by an attorney of his choosing during every aspect of the criminal proceedings up to and including trial of the matter; and to be able to present to the court any evidence of applicable defenses. However, sometimes there is a glitch in the system, a miscarriage of justice that results in the conviction and incarceration of an innocent person. Tragically, there are cases where a person convicted of a crime, has served years in prison for a crime he or she did not commit. The wrongfully accused can never get those years back, but may be entitled to compensation.

The State of Florida vs. Bain

In 1974, James Bain was convicted of breaking and entering, kidnapping, and rape, and was sentenced to life in prison. Bain maintained his innocence throughout, and after serving 35 years of the life sentence, his innocence was proven by DNA evidence.

Facing a Chicago murder charge can carry significant consequences.

It has been over a decade since the disappearance of 24-year-old Washington, D.C. intern Chandra Levy, but the case is back in the national spotlight as questions continue to swirl concerning the guilt of Ingmar Guandique, the Salvadorian illegal immigrant convicted of killing Levy in 2010.

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The Chandra Levy case, which captured national attention due to its mystery, intrigue, and political ties, is back in court due to the fact that defense attorneys for Ingmar Guandique have called into question the testimony of a star prosecution witness, Armando Morales.  Numerous hearings have been held on the matter but, until now, the proceedings were kept secret due to concerns for Morales safety.  On July 29, 2013, however, D.C. Superior Court Judge Gerald Fisher ordered the release of the transcripts of these previously confidential hearings.  While it is unclear how much new information these documents will contain, they should be available by the end of the week.

Ingmar Guandique was charged with the death of Chandra Levy in 2009, seven years after Levy’s remains were found in a Washington, D.C. area park.  Guandique, then 20 years old, was already in jail for attacking two women in the very same park where Chandra Levy’s body was found.  From the start, he adamantly denied murdering Chandra Levy.  During his trial, the prosecution presented the crucial testimony of Armando Morales, Guandrique’s one time cell mate, also a convicted felon and gang member, who told the jury that Guandique confessed to him to killing Chandra Levy.

Guandrique’s defense attorneys state that the unsealed documents will reveal Morales made contradictory statements at trial.  For instance, Morales testified at trial that he had never come forward to law enforcement before as he did not trust them.  However, the defense recently learned Morales had discussed three murders with law enforcement officers and informed them of drugs and weapons dealings occurring in the prison in which he was housed.

Guandrique’s defense team plans to request a new trial based on this previously undiscovered information affecting Morales’ credibility.  The motion will likely be filed in October or November of this year.

Here are a few points to take away from the Ingmar Guandrique Case:

  • A conviction does not have to be final–with a strong, dedicated defense team a guilty verdict is not irreversible, even in a high-profile Chicago murder case.  An experienced defense attorney will continue to fight for your case and diligently search for new evidence that might warrant a new trial.
  • Witness credibility is crucial—in so many cases like Guandrique’s, witness testimony is one of, if not the deciding factor of, an individual’s guilt.  Given the potential for witnesses to lie or be less than fully honest – particularly jail house informants like Morales – it is absolutely critical for your defense attorney to test the credibility of the prosecution’s witnesses.  This is accomplished through thorough discovery, extensive preparation, and effective cross-examination.
  • Wrongful convictions do happen—although Guandrique’s defense team still faces an uphill battle in proving he deserves a new trial, his case does serve to highlight the fact that wrongful convictions can occur; and do in fact occur more often than we would like to believe.  Wrongful convictions are frequently a result of poor lawyering, such as an attorney’s failure to fully investigate and prepare his client’s defense.  This makes it imperative to obtain the representation of a skilled, experienced, and dedicated defense attorney.

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