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How important are criminal appeals in California?

You’d be hard pressed to find someone here in California, or across the entire nation for that matter, that would be okay with a wrongful conviction. No one wants to be accused of doing something they didn’t do. But even though our criminal justice system says that a person is innocent until proven guilty, it often doesn’t feel that way to many when they are wrongfully convicted of crimes they didn’t commit.

According to the University of California, Berkley School of Law, our state has seen at least 213 residents to state or federal prisons for wrongful convictions. Between these people, they spent a combined 1,311 years behind bars. But because the California Wrongful Convictions Project is still collecting data, those numbers could be significantly higher.

So why do wrongful convictions happen? This can happen for a number of reasons from procedural errors to an eyewitness with an ulterior motive. These create major obstacles for the accused though and usually mean that this person’s rights are violated in the process.

That’s why appeals are so important to so many people. It gives them the chance to prove once more that they are not guilty of the criminal offenses for which they are accused. As you may already know, a prison sentence can take you away from your job and family. It frequently leaves a negative stigma on an accused as well. But an appeal gives a person the chance to get their conviction overturned and the charges against them dismissed so that they can return to their job and family and hopefully move on from what happened to them.

Source: The Longmont Times-Call, “Examining convictions for error is a wise decision,” June 25, 2014

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