Causes of Wrongful Convictions:
     Misconduct by
     Prosecutors 
or
     Law Enforcement

Many cases of wrongful conviction include evidence of negligence, fraud, and misconduct by prosecutors and law enforcement, the very people responsible for insuring truth and justice in our criminal justice system.

The Innocence Project lists the following common forms of misconduct they say is evident at every level and stage of a criminal investigation.

Misconduct by law enforcement include:

  • Employing suggestion when conducting  identification procedures
  • Coercing false confessions
  • Lying or intentionally misleading jurors about their observations
  • Failing to turn over exculpatory evidence to prosecutors
  • Providing incentives to secure unreliable evidence from informants 

Misconduct by prosecutors include: 

  • Withholding exculpatory evidence from defense
  • Deliberately mishandling, mistreating or destroying evidence
  • Allowing witnesses they know or should know are not truthful to testify
  • Pressuring defense witnesses not to testify
  • Relying on fraudulent forensic experts
  • Making misleading arguments that overstate the probative value of testimony  

The interactive graphic above is a joint project between the Innocence Project and Brandon Garrett, author of "Convicting the Innocent." 

Last page update: November 18, 2011

© 2011-2013 Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, Waltham, MA. All rights reserved.