You are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law if you have been arrested and charged with a crime. The presumption of your innocence is your legal right in any court of law in New York. The prosecution has the burden to present enough compelling evidence and testimony that is legally admissible and lawfully obtained, that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If anytype of doubt remains, then you will be acquitted.
Unfortunately, innocent people are convicted of crimes in which they did not commit and serve lengthy prison sentences as a result. For example, Mary Virginia Jones was imprisoned for 32 years for a first-degree murder conviction, kidnapping, and robbery.
Prosecutors stated that Jones accompanied her boyfriend during the process of all the crimes, but Jones professed her innocence the entire duration of her case including her prison sentence. Jones was held hostage by her boyfriend who threatened to kill her if she did not partake in his criminal activity. As a result of the crimes her boyfriend committed, Jones was sentenced to life without parole.
“He pulled a gun on me and shot at me, and my mother witnessed that,” said Jones-Goodie. “And he threatened to not only kill me but to kill her and anybody else that came to our aid.”
Fortunately, after reviewing evidence, a judge agreed with Jones’s testimony after serving a 32 year sentence.
Malisha Brown, a resident of the Bronx, was found guilty in 2007 for her alleged role in a 2005 home-invasion shooting. After spending 7 years in prison, the case against her was dismissed.
The information failed to sway a judge at a 2008 hearing. But future breaks in the case produced her exoneration after nearly seven painful years behind bars. Freed in January, her case was formally dismissed on March 11.
Brown stated the following regarding the imprisonment:
“It took me a while to realize they just convicted me on an attempted murder charge that I had nothing to do with. I broke down, but I never lost hope.”
If you believe you have been wrongfully convicted of a crime, you have the legal right to appeal the conviction. Assuming that the lower court made no error, there are two main grounds in which your conviction can be appealed: 1) The lower court made a serious error of law; and/or 2) The weight of the evidence does not support the verdict.
Innocent people go to jail all the time in the U.S. Some spend decades behind bars for crimes they did not commit. If you or a loved one has been convicted of a crime in which you did not commit, contact me for a case consultation.