Philadelphia Criminal Lawyers

Help for Those Wrongfully Convicted of a Crime

Innocent Americans are regularly imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. A recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that a full four percent of all death row inmates are later found not guilty. Moreover, The Innocence Project, a legal team dedicated to overturning wrongful convictions, maintains that minorities are those most often wrongfully convicted. One analysis of 297 inmates later exonerated by DNA evidence demonstrates that 63 percent were African-American, according to The Innocence Project.

Malicious Prosecution Litigation: Pennsylvanians Only Recourse for a Wrongful Conviction

Fortunately, qualified Philadelphia criminal lawyers work not only to overturn wrongful convictions, they also seek compensation on behalf of those who are exonerated. Although such compensation can never serve as a replacement for time spent behind bars, it can enable the wrongfully convicted to make a fresh start in life. Unlike New Jersey and New York, however, Pennsylvania does not have a wrongful conviction compensation statute. Accordingly, when an accused party is proven innocent there is no mechanism in place that guarantees them an award from the state. A person wrongfully convicted of a crime in Pennsylvania must instead seek recourse through a malicious prosecution civil lawsuit.

When pursuing a claim for malicious prosecution, a plaintiff must demonstrate that prosecutors acted outside their authority in bringing criminal charges, and then in seeing those charges through to trial. Importantly, a defendant need not serve time in jail or prison in order to successfully sue for malicious prosecution. A case which is legally deficient can form the basis of a civil lawsuit if and when charges are dismissed.

Proving That a Prosecution was Malicious

Prevailing on an allegation of malicious prosecution can be difficult, but it is possible with persistence, according to Philadelphia criminal lawyers. Since prosecutors enjoy broad immunity, a plaintiff must demonstrate an affirmative, malicious act by a prosecutor which altered the outcome of their case, or which falsely bolstered an indictment. A prosecutor who knowingly ignores exculpatory evidence or who willingly submits false testimony from an eyewitness can be held liable, if a criminal defendant is later exonerated.

Some cases of malicious prosecution are harder to prove than others, and some plaintiffs are foreclosed from pursuing damages from prosecutors no matter how conclusive the proof of their innocence. When a defendant voluntarily enters a guilty plea, tampers with evidence, or intimidates witnesses it can hamper their efforts to later claim malicious prosecution. Similarly, a party convicted of multiple crimes stemming from the same incident is unable to sue for malicious prosecution, even if they are later cleared of the more serious charges.

Patience Pays Off When Pursuing a Claim for Malicious Prosecution

When it becomes clear that a wrongful conviction will be overturned, feelings of relief can quickly give way to anger. Many wrongfully convicted inmates will lose years of their life due to the misconduct of prosecutors and police. An exonerated prisoner will understandably seek justice, but building a successful claim for malicious prosecution lawsuit takes time.

Philadelphia Criminal Lawyers at the Law Offices of Patrick G. Geckle Fight for the Wrongfully Convicted

The criminal justice system is far from perfect, and occasionally innocent people are sent to jail. If you or a loved one has been wrongfully convicted, contact the Philadelphia criminal lawyers at the Law Offices of Patrick G. Geckle, LLC. We will work tirelessly to restore your reputation and seek compensation on your behalf. Contact us online or call 215-735-3326 or toll-free at 800-555-7780 to schedule a free consultation at our offices in Philadelphia, where we serve clients throughout Delaware County, Montgomery County, Bucks County, and Chester County.