Being charged with a crime that the accused did not commit can be a harrowing situation. When the innocent person is convicted of the crime, the situation can move from distressing to an almost unreal state. Being convicted of serious crimes such as murder changes a person’s entire life in a significantly negative way. Even if the conviction is later overturned, the wrongly accused person could have spent years in jail and missed out on important events in their life.
A Colorado man who was convicted of first-degree murder and sexual assault was released 17 years after being sentenced to life in prison after new DNA evidence related to the case did not link him to other crucial evidence in the case. As a result, the man’s situation has spurred a new law that would require the state to compensate people who were wrongly convicted and served jail time for felony charges. The new law would not allow for compensation to those whose cases were appealed on technicalities but for those who were ‘provably innocent.’
The man could now be receiving $100,000 a year until the $1.2 million that the courts estimated he was owed is paid if he is able to be proven innocent of the reported murder and sexual assault at the settlement hearing. The man would have to take courses in how to manage the money properly as well as meet other requirements such as obtaining health insurance. The state would not have to uphold the compensation payments if the man is convicted of a felony or other extenuating circumstances.
While no amount of money could bring back the years the man missed while he was wrongfully spending time behind bars for a murder he did not commit, the compensation could be beneficial as he attempts to get his life back on track. This situation shows how important gathering the correct evidence and preparing defensive tactics for court can be. Anyone who may be facing criminal charges in Colorado could find looking into applicable laws beneficial as their cases proceed.
Source: coloradoan.com, “Wrongly convicted Colorado man nears settlement,” Aug. 5, 2013