Illinois Has Second Highest Number of Criminal Exonerations in 2013

Posted on in Criminal Law

criminal exoneration, Arlington Heights criminal defense, criminal lawyer, Chicago attorneyAccording to a report from the National Registry of Exonerations, last year, Illinois was the number two state in the nation which exonerated people who were wrongfully convicted of crimes. In 2013, the state exonerated 9 people, officially vindicated of the crimes for which they were convicted. Some of those who had been convicted had been in prison for decades for crimes they had never committed. The number one state with the most exonerations in 2013 was Texas, with 13 people absolved of their criminal convictions. New York followed with 8, California with 6, Michigan and Missouri were tied with 5. According to the registry, there have been 1,304 exonerations nationally since 1989. One third of the total number of exonerated cases was for crimes that didn’t actually happen. Almost half of these were for non-violent crimes. The racial/ethical breakdown was as follows: 47 percent of those exonerated were black, 40 percent were white, 11 percent were Hispanic and 2 percent were Native American or Asian. Ninety-two percent were men and eight percent were women. Eleven percent of those exonerated had pled guilty before trial. Eighty-one percent were convicted by a jury and seven percent convicted by a judge. One percent was unknown.

The total number for 2013 was 87, which was the highest year ever. However, the percentage of those exonerations based on DNA evidence dropped. A spokesperson from the registry said this decrease is a good indicator of the increasing number of convictions that are being granted that are for crimes other than murder and sexual assault.

 However, legal experts also point out that these figures also highlight the need for a good quality defense attorney. Almost one third of those exonerated were convicted due to what the registry refers to as an "inadequate legal defense." The total number of years combined that the 87 people whom were exonerated had spent a total of 12,500 years in jail for crimes they didn’t commit. If you’ve been arrested and charged with a crime, contact an experienced Arlington Heights criminal defense attorney to ensure that your rights are protected in the courtroom.