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Wrongful Convictions: The Facts

A wrongful conviction is when a person is convicted of a crime they did not commit. Wrongful convictions are often the result of multiple failures— usually by investigators, witnesses, scientists, and lawyers— that can occur at various stages of the criminal justice process. Convictions are typically considered wrongful for one of two reasons: the person is factually innocent of the charges brought against them (which is why wrongful convictions are often known as cases of “actual innocence”), or the individual’s case involved procedural errors that violated their rights.

Wrongful convictions are often attributed to five common causes:

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