Top Reasons for Wrongful Convictions

Top Reasons for Wrongful Convictions

There are people behind bars who are innocent. Science is helping with the exoneration of cases, mainly through DNA evidence. Awareness of the issue is also helping with criminal justice reform. One true-life movie with Hilary Swank, entitled The Exonerated, demonstrates how a wrongful conviction can happen.

Here are the top reasons why wrongful convictions happen:

Eyewitness Mistaken Identity

According to Western Michigan University, 72% of overturned convictions, through DNA evidence, are from mistaken witness identifications. The Innocence Project is trying to push for reforms that include the way lineups are conducted. A witness can be influenced unconsciously during a lineup in various ways. This can be shocking to people who are arrested, and they may need  to reach a criminal defense attorney Kingsport TN.


Nearly one in five cases of wrongful conviction are due to someone giving false testimony. A lot of times this happens with jailhouse informants who may have other motives. According to the Innocence Project, jailhouse informants are one of the leading causes of wrongful convictions that are later overturned due to DNA evidence. Sometimes informants lie because they believe they will receive some benefit. Since confidential informants’ identity can be kept secret, the credibility, criminal history and testimony history of the informant may go without challenge.

False Confession

In 30% of exonerated wrongful convictions, the defendant was to blame for falsely confessing. Innocent people sometimes take the heat for a crime they didn’t commit during interrogation for various reasons from exhaustion and hunger to fear.

Misused Forensic Evidence

The Innocence Project states that 45% of convictions, overturned with DNA evidence, were due to misapplied forensic evidence, such as hair analysis and comparative bullet lead analysis. Nationally, 24% of all cases (including those with non-DNA evidence) that are overturned, are done so because the cases had faulty forensics.

Thankfully, reforms are being made in some of these areas and light is being shed on the issue of wrongful convictions through media and movies.