Wrongful Conviction Frequently Asked Questions
Experienced Civil Rights Lawyers Answer Wrongful Conviction Frequently Asked Questions
After you have been released from prison following an exoneration of a crime you did not commit, you may have many questions about your legal options and rights. Below, we try to answer some wrongful conviction frequently asked questions to help you begin to understand what steps you can take following your exoneration and release to seek accountability and justice.
Unfortunately, Pennsylvania still remains one of several states that does not have a statute requiring compensation payments to persons who have been the victims of a wrongful conviction. If you were wrongfully convicted of a crime in Pennsylvania due to the misconduct or bad acts of a state official or other party, you may only be able to recover financial compensation for the harm you have suffered by filing a civil wrongful conviction lawsuit. However, to succeed in such a lawsuit you typically will need to prove that someone engaged in intentional or reckless conduct that caused you to be wrongfully convicted.
If police officers or prosecutors engaged in misconduct during your criminal case and that misconduct led to you being wrongfully convicted, you may be able to file a civil lawsuit against those individual officials as well as against the law enforcement department and district attorney’s office that handled your criminal case. However, police and prosecutors enjoy broad immunity under statutory and common law from civil lawsuits claiming that actions taken by police and prosecutors in their official capacities caused someone injury. You will likely need experienced legal counsel to help you put together a successful civil claim.
It is difficult to estimate how long a civil wrongful conviction claim or lawsuit will take to resolve. In some cases, government entities and officials quickly agree to settle a claim. In other cases, they deny the allegations of an exoneree’s claim and spend years fighting the case. If the parties liable for your wrongful conviction choose to contest your claim and you have to file a lawsuit and go to trial, it can take as long as several years before your claim is ultimately resolved through a verdict (and potentially an appeal).
Because an exoneree recently released from prison likely does not have much in the way of financial resources, many civil rights/injury attorneys will take a wrongful conviction civil claim on a contingency fee basis, which means that an exoneree does not have to pay any money upfront or pay any legal fees unless their lawyer recovers compensation for them. In addition, there are numerous state and national organizations that can help recently released individuals obtain support services and financial assistance while they pursue a wrongful conviction civil lawsuit.
In a wrongful conviction civil suit, you are looking to be compensated for the harm and losses that you have sustained due to being wrongfully imprisoned for a crime you did not commit. This includes the lost income and financial stability caused by your imprisonment, the emotional trauma and distress that results from losing years of your life behind bars, as well as expenses that you may incur as a result, such as mental health treatment. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may also be entitled to receive compensation in the form of punitive damages, which are intended to punish the liable party or parties for conduct that is considered especially egregious or shocking to the public conscience.
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Contact Marrone Law Firm, LLC Today for a Free Consultation to Learn More about Wrongful Conviction Frequently Asked Questions
If you need answers to more wrongful conviction frequently asked questions or if you want to learn more about how our civil litigation & trial attorneys in Philadelphia, PA can help you pursue justice for your wrongful conviction, call or contact Marrone Law Firm, LLC today for a free case evaluation to discuss your legal rights and options.