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Actual Innocence Lawyers

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Actual Innocence Lawyers

A person accused of committing a criminal act is considered innocent until proven guilty. The individual can plead not guilty, no contest, or guilty to the crime. If a person is found guilty after a trial, they are sentenced to a jail or prison time and/or a fine, unless they can successful prove actual innocence.

What Is Actual Innocence?

An actual innocence claim is an appeal using new evidence that was not available at the time of a defendant’s original trial. The purpose of the claim is to question the confidence of the original jury’s verdict.

Can New Evidence Be Presented During Trial?

No. Any new evidence supporting actual innocence must be present after the completion of a trial. This evidence is used by the defense team for the specific purpose of showing that the defendant was actually innocent of the crime.

When Can I Assert Actual Innocence?

There are two situations where a defendant can use this defense after the trial:

  • The defendant did not commit the crime they are convicted of committing or witnesses mistakenly identified the defendant
  • The defendant not engage in any criminal act and there is evidence to prove the original criminal allegation was false

How Can Actual Innocence Be Established?

It can be established in two basic ways:

  • Bare claim
  • Constitutional error

What Is a Bare Claim?

A bare claim involves showing hard evidence that casts reasonable doubt on the conviction. This includes new DNA evidence. The new evidence could not have been available to the court at the time of trial, which is why it was not presented at the original trial.

What Does Constitutional Error Mean?

Constitutional error refers to gross mistakes being made during the trial. These mistakes prevented evidence from being introduced which could have proved the defendant’s innocence. For example, there could have been suppressed evidence or witnesses who could have changed the outcome of the case.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Prove Actual Innocence?

This is a complicated defense strategy, and a lawyer’s assistance is essential to being able to properly assert it. Talk to a criminal lawyer to understand more about proving this claim.

Photo of page author Taelonnda Sewell

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 09-10-2015 11:34 PM PDT

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