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The high price of wrongful convictions

"It’s a significant amount of work to undo a criminal conviction." That statement made by the director the Minnesota Innocence Project underscores the importance of preventing an incorrect or mistaken conviction in the first place. Every statement, every decision and every action during a criminal prosecution can be significant and mistakes or oversights along the way can lead to years in prison.

Whether a misdemeanor or a charge of first-degree murder, the criminal justice system has a single goal: a conviction. Once someone has been accused of a crime and it is being investigated by the police, it often becomes a one-way street. There may be side-streets and stops, but the prosecutor has no intention other than bringing the accused to the final destination of a conviction and a prison sentence.

For those wrongfully convicted, the frustration with the system can be overwhelming. The police and prosecutors are not concerned that there may be other suspects or other evidence. If they believe they have enough to win a conviction, that too often becomes their only goal.

Choosing an experienced defense attorney is necessary, as the machinery of the state and the federal government is vast and resources ranging from the local police and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) to federal agencies, like the FBI, DEA or IRS all will be working with prosecutors to send the accused to jail.

No criminal prosecution should ever be taken lightly, and the more serious the charge, the more important it is to obtain legal representation as early as possible to prevent the road to the court house from becoming a one-way street leading directly to prison.

Source:, "For Northfield Man, ‘Making A Murderer’ Hits Close To Home," Liz Collin, January 18, 2016

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