By Jedidiah McKeehan
Let me start by saying this, you never want to be in a position where you are exonerated, because if you need one, something really bad has already happened to you.
Exoneration is the legal process through which a person who has been wrongfully convicted of a crime is cleared of all charges and declared innocent. Exonerations do not happen very often. When you do hear about them, the headline in the newspaper is typically something like, “Man is exonerated by new DNA evidence after serving 20 years in prison for murder he did not commit.” Yikes!
The process of exoneration usually begins with a motion for post-conviction relief. Typically the motion will rely on new evidence that has been discovered such as DNA evidence or a previously unknown witness.
At some point there will likely be a hearing on the new evidence. If the judge sides with the defendant, the court may issue the defendant’s release from prison, order a new trial, vacate the conviction, and/or dismiss the charges.
Beyond that, if someone is exonerated, they will almost always, and justifiably, seek monetary compensation for their wrongful conviction. In order to be eligible for compensation, the person must have been imprisoned for at least one year. The person may also receive up to $50,000.00 for each year they were wrongfully incarcerated as well as compensation for lost wages, attorney’s fees and other expenses.
Seeking exoneration through post-conviction relief is a long shot, but on rare occasions, there will be a basis for exonerating a defendant.
Visit attorney-knoxville.com for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.