If you’ve been wrongfully convicted of a crime, and you want to be compensated for it, you need to explore several legal avenues of redress. If there was some government wrongdoing – on behalf of the police, prosecutor, or judge — you may be able to bring a case based on “malicious prosecution” or based on deprivation of civil rights (42 U.S.C. 1983). But what if there really was no “wrongdoing” on the part of the prosecutor, judge or police? What if you were simply convicted – for example – based on mistaken identity?
That’s where Court of Claims Act §8-b can be a lifesaver. Under this very special Statute, you don’t have to prove anyone did anything wrong. All you have to prove is that you were convicted for a crime you did not commit, that the conviction was duly vacated, and that (by clear and convincing evidence) you were not guilty of that crime nor of any of the offenses for which you was charged.
One last thing: You must show that you “did not by [your] own conduct cause or bring about [your] conviction” (Court of Claims Act §8-b). Why would you have done anything to bring about your own conviction? The most common way is if you were trying to protect someone else. Did you help cover up evidence that your spouse or friend did the crime? That might have done you in! Did you help bring about your own conviction by giving a non-coerced confession? Did you attempt to induce a witness to give false testimony, or attempt to suppress testimony, or testify untruthfully in court? If you did, a Court might find your own conduct caused your own wrongful conviction.
Bottom line: If you want to bring a wrongful conviction claim against the State of New York based on Court of Claims Act § 8, you had better have clean hands.
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you!
Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com Central NY Wrongful Conviction Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.