Few things can alter your life like a wrongful conviction. A wrongful conviction can take away years that could be spent with friends and family; it can take away your life.
We understand how devastating it can be to wrongfully lose those years. That’s why we fight for victims of a failed system. From our team of wrongful conviction attorneys at Cooper Elliott, here’s what you need to know about getting compensation after a wrongful conviction is overturned in Ohio.
Why do wrongful convictions happen?
Unfortunately, all it takes is one mistake to make any of us a victim of our complicated justice system.
There are many reasons that people face wrongful convictions. Our experienced wrongful conviction lawyers have seen it all, and not just in Ohio – we work with people experiencing this problem throughout the country.
Some of reasons that lead to wrongful convictions include:
- Eyewitness misidentification
- False or coerced confessions or admissions
- Ineffective assistance of counsel or legal malpractice
- Invalid scientific testimony
- Misconduct by police officers and forensic investigators
Has anyone had a conviction overturned in Ohio?
Yes. According to the National Registry of Exonerations , over 100 convictions have been
overturned in Ohio. Cooper Elliott has represented several Ohio exonerees in compensation
claims. In one of our Ohio cases, we championed the case for Mary “Jenny” Reach and Robert “Bobby” Aldridge, who were wrongfully convicted of child molestation in 1985.
Jenny and Bobby were wrongfully charged and convicted due to coerced false statements by children. After they faced 11 years in prison, Jenny and Bobby’s convictions were overturned after the children recanted their testimonies as adults. During the appeal process, an investigation also revealed exculpatory information had been withheld from their defense counsel.
Our team at Cooper Elliott had the opportunity to work with Jenny and Bobby after their conviction was overturned. They waited 23 years for compensation from the state to no avail, but just a year after they came to our firm, we achieved a sizable payout for their 11 years of turmoil.
Can I be compensated after my wrongful conviction is overturned?
After facing the extreme hardships of imprisonment for a wrongful conviction – being shut off from society, losing time with loved ones, and being unable to earn a living – you might expect the government to compensate you for their failed system.
Unfortunately, this isn’t automatically the case. For a very long time, it was unusual for states to recognize civil claims for a wrongful conviction. That’s largely changed, although a handful of states still don’t allow the claim.
Fortunately, Ohio does have a wrongful conviction law that allows exonerees to try to receive compensation. It’s still not automatic; you need to file a claim and go through court proceedings.
But in the past few years, the state of Ohio has expanded the rights of wrongful conviction victims to receive compensation.
What is the Wrongful Conviction Compensation Statute?
In March 2019, Ohio amended its Wrongful Conviction Compensation Statute. With these amendments, more exonerees became eligible for compensation in multiple ways.
- First, the statute is retroactive. Therefore, even if an individual’s conviction was overturned many years ago, they are still eligible to file a claim.
- Additionally, the amendment expanded avenues through which exonerees can prove they were wrongfully convicted. As always, claimants can prevail by providing their actual innocence. But because affirmatively proving innocence is often difficult when evidence is destroyed or witnesses not available because of the passage of time, the amendments also allow a claimant to prevail by proving a “Brady violation.” These violations occur when police or prosecutors withhold exculpatory information from the defense – just like in Jenny and Bobby’s case.
- The amendments also took away a prosecutor’s ability to block a claim arbitrarily. In the past, a claimant had to prove that it was impossible they would be re-charged with the crime. But some very serious crimes—like murder—have no deadline for a prosecutor to file charges. So, even where someone’s conviction was overturned, a prosecutor could block a compensation claim but just saying the investigation was still open and the person was still a suspect, even if there was no evidence of guilt. The amendments eliminated this possibility.
Contact Cooper Elliott’s Attorneys in Ohio Today
Our team at Cooper Elliott has years of experience representing people who are wrongfully convicted of crimes of all levels. We fight for people’s rights not only in Ohio, but all throughout the United States, because we know how detrimental it can be to someone’s life when they face a wrongful conviction. Let us help you get your life back, and compensation for your pain and suffering.
No matter where you come from, we’re here to make this journey with you. Contact our team of Ohio wrongful conviction lawyers today.