Some states have created special laws that compensate a person who is wrongfully convicted of a crime.  That is to say, if a person is convicted of committing a crime they did not commit, under certain circumstances that person can get paid for the time that they were in prison.

Who is Eligible for Compensation?

In order to be eligible to get compensation for wrongful conviction in a state that allows for it, a person must:

  1. Be convicted of a felony, not just a misdemeanor, and
  2. Serve time in a state prison.

What Do I Need to Show to Get Compensation?

Even if you are eligible to get compensation for wrongful conviction, you must also prove other things.  Generally, you must also show:

  • No crime was committed or you did not commit the crime, and
  • You did not act, or fail to act, in a way that intentionally or negligently contributed to your arrest or conviction.

Most states that honor any compensation for wrongful conviction require a strong showing that no crime was committed or you did not commit the crime.  Other states will not consider such a claim unless a the Governor has issued a pardon or clemency.

There is also the issue of a statute of limitations.  A claim for compensation for wrongful conviction must generally be brought within 6 months after an acquittal, discharge, pardon, or release from prison.

How Much Compensation Can I Get?

States that have laws that compensate for wrongful conviction differ in the amount of compensation you can recover.  Some states have a cap, where the amount of compensation cannot exceed $10,000.  Other states give compensation based on a daily rate, such as $100 per day in prison.  States also differ in the fact that some treat the compensation as part of your gross income and it is subject to taxation.

Do I Need an Attorney to Get any Compensation for Wrongful Conviction?

If you served time for a felony that was subsequently disproved, it is recommended that you talk to a criminal defense attorney about the possibility of being compensated for the time you served in prison.  Only an attorney will be able to advise you on the law, explain any relevant issues, and help you receive proper compensation.