People count on the criminal justice system to handle cases in which people break the law. They generally don’t think that a person can be convicted of a crime that never even happened based on fabricated or mistaken statements from alleged victims or witnesses. Unfortunately, no-crime wrongful convictions are possible within the American criminal justice system, and they happen more than most people realize.
Why aren’t these kinds of cases weeded out in due time? Several reasons are possible.
In some court systems, the issue defendants face is that one public defender is assigned to work in a courtroom with a specific judge. Because of this, the public defender might realize that they can’t rock the boat too much for one person or others who are facing charges might suffer because the judge isn’t pleased with the attorney. That causes them to dampen down the fight they might otherwise put up for their client.
Another issue is that judges are the ones who appoint the attorneys in some jurisdictions. There’s a chance that if a judge knows that a specific attorney is going to fight hard for their clients that they might skip over that lawyer when they’re appointing someone for a specific case. They know that the attorney might take up a lot of the court’s time fighting for that client, and they don’t necessarily want that to happen.
Plus, there’s really no incentive for prosecutors to look deeply into an alleged victim’s story if they aren’t inclined to do so. Prosecutorial immunity means that prosecutors won’t face backlash for doing their job duties, so there’s a chance that nothing would happen even if they fight for a conviction of a crime that didn’t happen. Unfortunately, this is sometimes the case when a prosecutor is concerned about their conviction numbers for an upcoming election.
Ultimately, the best way that any defendant can combat the possibility of facing a no-crime wrongful conviction is to hire an attorney who will fight head-on in every battle that comes up during their case. Working with a lawyer who sets a defense strategy based on the defendant’s facts is critical.