In Florida, Not Only Are Wrongful Convictions Par for the Course, But Some Prosecutors Fight Obvious Exonerations
It’s no secret that no state in the U.S. likely has more wrongful convictions than Florida, where a number of defendants are convicted simply because they did not have the resources to build a proper defense and/or were cajoled into taking inaccurate plea bargains. Sadly, in Brevard County in particular, wrongful convictions are reportedly par for the course, and in Brevard, wrongful convictions aren’t simply limited to a lack of resources for criminal defendants, but can also involve dishonest detectives, fraudulent handlers, questionable jailhouse informants, lying witnesses, and withheld evidence.
In addition, there are also a number of concerns that the State Attorney’s Office is stubbornly resistant to recognizing when suspects should not be tried and making recompense for those wrongfully convicted, arguing against compensation for these individuals and actively fighting against the introduction of DNA evidence that can exonerate those wrongfully convicted. In fact, this has become such an issue in Florida that the wrongful conviction tragedies of Brevard County in particular have become the subject matter of the award-winning podcast Murder on the Space Coast.
Why And How Do Prosecutors Preserve Wrongful Convictions?
Still, this phenomenon of prosecutors denying that mistakes were made and active attempts to preserve wrongful convictions aren’t limited to Brevard County by any means. A number of prosecutors across the country have knee-jerk reactions that when convictions are challenged, where any kind of relief is opposed by prosecutors, no matter what the objective facts of the case indicate.
To uphold wrongful convictions, the state will often resort to any “procedural machination” that can throw a wrench into the process—arguing that appeals do not contain any new evidence, or have not been timely filed, etc. This has been the case a number of times, even in the instance of suspects who have already spent decades in prison for crimes they never committed and for which DNA proof is readily available. According to reports, some Florida prosecutors have even gone so far as to state that “innocence [is] irrelevant” in a case simply because a filing was not timely.
Jacksonville, Orlando, and Tampa May Open Up Appeals
There may be some hope: Some cities like Jacksonville are forming what are called “Conviction Integrity Units,” whose sole job is to examine and fix wrongful convictions. These units could open up a number of those wrongfully convicted to a chance at an appeal, and, reportedly, Orlando and Tampa are the next cities with plans to form these units.
Contact Our Florida Criminal Defense & Civil Rights Attorneys to Find Out More
There are simply too many wrongful convictions in Florida to risk working with a criminal defense attorney who may let things fall through the cracks. If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime or the victim of wrongful conviction here in Florida, contact our experienced Orlando criminal defense attorneys at the Baez Law Firm today to find out about our experienced criminal defense services.