If you or anyone you know has ever been wrongfully accused of a crime, you will know what a disastrous situation it can be. Apart from being deeply unfair, it is also the kind of thing which is likely to actually ruin someone’s life. The truth is, wrongful accusations happen for a whole hot of reasons, and no two are quite the same. In this post, we are going to look at some of the main reasons that people are wrongfully accused of crimes. Knowing these can help to shed light on why it is such an ongoing problem, and from that we can try to build more just ways of finding criminals as a society. Let’s take a look.
The number one cause of wrongful accusations, according to the official statistics, is eyewitness misidentification. This can happen all too easily, and it happens so much that it leads to many thousands of wrongful imprisonments every year worldwide. Psychologists say that eyewitnesses are notoriously unreliable, as memory is difficult to actually get that accurate – not accurate enough for a court of law, anyway. It is clear from this that we should perhaps try to place less emphasis on the words of eyewitnesses.
We all know what forensic science is, and how it might be used to find the guilty party. But the truth is, it is just as often used to find the not guilty party. Bad forensic evidence accounts for a huge number of false imprisonments per year, and the trend doesn’t look like it’s slowing down any time soon. Part of the problem, according to experts, is that juries tend to overvalue forensic evidence – this has been called the CSI effect. Because of its importance on television dramas, people take forensic science to be more accurate than it really is. In fact, any decent drug crime attorney will tell you that forensics cannot always be relied upon.
There are all sorts of reasons why someone might give a false confession – there must be, because it is the third most common cause of wrongful convictions. People might give false confessions in order to cover up for someone else, or because insanity causes them to genuinely believe that they did something they didn’t do. The best way to avoid this kind of trouble in future is to not place too much emphasis on the words of confessions. After all, there is always the distinct possibility that the person is lying, misinformed, or deeply confused about the whole thing.
This last one is probably the hardest to do anything about, and yet it is one of the most corrupt. Sometimes, the wrong person is convicted because the government of one or more countries intervenes in a case and makes it so. This is highly controversial, but it does happen, and there is little that can be done about it except for reform. This reform, however, is likely to take many years to properly come through and change things.