Camden Criminal Lawyer: Wrongfully Imprisoned Man Free After 33 Years
An exonerated Virginia man made headlines early last month when he was released from prison after serving 33 years for a crime he did not commit. DNA evidence proved that he was innocent of the rape and murder of a couple in 1982, for which he was initially found guilty. When he was found guilty more than 30 years ago, it was partially due to two expert witnesses’ testimony that his teeth matched the bite marks on the female victim’s leg. But now, through help from The Innocence Project, a nonprofit committed to seeking justice for individuals wrongfully convicted and imprisoned, he has been cleared and leaves prison a free man.
Evidence Is Key in NJ Criminal Cases & Appeals
In any criminal trial, evidence is key to proving that the individual charged with a crime is guilty. When the man discussed above was initially convicted, the bite marks found on the victim’s leg were deemed to be a strong enough piece of evidence to prove his guilty. Now, with advances in forensic technology, investigators can more accurately determine whether an accused individual is truly guilty.
Nearly anything can be used as evidence to prove an individual’s innocence or guilt, as long as it is relevant to the case. When a piece of evidence can be used to support a claim or innocence or guilt, it is considered to be admissible. For example, in a case where an individual is charged with drunk driving, an empty beer bottle in the individual’s car may be used as evidence alongside a positive Breathalyzer result and a failed roadside sobriety test. However, an illegally-possessed handgun found in the individual’s car is not an admissible piece of evidence because it is not related to his being guilty of driving drunk.
When a piece of evidence is not relevant or otherwise inappropriate for the courtroom, it is considered to be inadmissible. A few examples of why a piece of evidence may be deemed to be inadmissible include:
- It could be misleading. If a piece of evidence can potentially draw the jury’s attention away from the topic at hand, it may be deemed inadmissible.
- If it is unfairly prejudicial. In the same way a piece of evidence can be misleading, a piece of evidence can be determined to be unfairly prejudicial if it creates a bias toward or against the individual charged that could sway the jury’s ability to examine the evidence rationally.
- Evidence meant to confirm a personality trait. In most cases, evidence used in an attempt to characterize the accused is deemed to be inadmissible because it can create a bias against him or her.
- It is hearsay. Witness testimonies must come directly from the witness. They cannot come second-hand.
- It came from a privileged source. Evidence used in a criminal trial cannot come from a privileged source, which is an individual with whom the accused has a confidential relationship. For example, evidence cannot come from conversations between the accused and his or her lawyer.
- It is a layperson’s testimony advertised as an expert testimony. Expert testimonies must come from experts. If an individual is not considered to be an expert in the field in which he or she is testifying, such as a doctor discussing a victim’s wound, the testimony may be inadmissible. Lay witnesses can provide testimony as well, but they cannot proclaim to be experts.
Camden Criminal Lawyers at The Law Offices of Michele Finizio Can Help Clear Your Name If You Were Wrongfully Convicted of a Crime
If you are facing a criminal charge for an offense you did not commit, contact an experienced Camden criminal lawyer to build a strong defense for your case as soon as possible. The Law Offices of Michele Finizio has a team of well-seasoned attorneys with the experience to properly create a legal strategy to defend your case. Fill out our online contact form or call us at 856-242-7300 today to schedule your free consultation in our Moorestown offices. We proudly represent clients throughout Southern New Jersey, including Camden County, Burlington County, Gloucester County, and Salem County.