Wrongful Conviction Lawyer in Chicago, IL

Our criminal justice system’s effectiveness is determined by its reliability, or its ability to condemn the guilty and exonerate the innocent. However, we are aware that erroneous convictions do occur. It is vital to identify and comprehend the reasons for false convictions in order to safeguard the legitimacy of our judicial system. If you were wrongfully convicted, you deserve justice. Contact a Chicago wrongful conviction lawyer for more information.

At Curcio Law Offices, we fight for justice and compensation for those harmed or wronged by another party. If you experienced police brutality, illegal search and seizure, malicious prosecution, a wrongful conviction, or another form of injustice or due process violations, we’re here for you. Let our years of experience work in your favor as we fight to prove your innocence. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with us, please call 312-321-1111 or fill out our online intake form today.

wrongful conviction lawyer

What Is a Wrongful Conviction?

Wrongful conviction occurs when a person is convicted of a crime but later discovers that the conviction was incorrect. People who are actually innocent but were wrongfully convicted by a jury or another court of law are wrongly convicted.

Although the overturning of a conviction based on new evidence has always been an element of criminal law, the introduction of DNA evidence has given it a powerful influence. Prior to the discovery of DNA, later evidence was dismissed since it was typically oral in nature or provided by a suspect in custody. Furthermore, most people who have been convicted are unable to pay for expensive forensic or other examinations into their unjust convictions.

Wrongful Conviction Statistics

One great resource when it comes to the staggering statistics related to wrongful convictions is The Innocence Project. The Innocence Project, started in 1992 at Cardozo School of Law by Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck, exonerates wrongfully convicted people using DNA testing and improves the criminal justice system to stop future injustices. They also keep records of statistics regarding wrongful convictions in the United States.

Here are a few important, but shocking statistics:

  • Anywhere from 2-10% of all convicted people in prisons are innocent. Currently, over 2.3 million people are imprisoned in the United States. That means anywhere from 46,000 to 230,000 of those people are innocent.
  • More than 2400 people have been exonerated since 1989.
  • Witness misidentification accounts for 69% of all wrongful convictions.
  • The average number of years an innocent person serves in prison is 14 years.
  • 60% of those exonerated are African-American, while they make up only 13% of the prison population.

Why Do Wrongful Convictions Happen?

The biggest contributing reasons for erroneous convictions in the United States, according to the National Institute of Justice, fall under the following six categories.

  • Mistaken eyewitness accounts or identification
  • False accusations or perjury by informants
  • False or coerced confessions
  • Misapplication of or misleading forensic evidence
  • Police misconduct
  • Poor defense counsel

Famous Examples of Wrongful Conviction

Wrongful convictions are tragic and entirely unjust. Nobody should have to serve time for a crime they never committed. Unfortunately, it’s much more frequent than you know. In fact, certain cases of wrongful convictions are well-known to the public. Below, we list four famous examples of wrongful convictions in the United States.

The West Memphis Three

In 1994, three men were wrongfully convicted of the murder of three 8-year-old boys. The three men were Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley. Echols’ Metallica t-shirt, according to the prosecution, demonstrated he was complicit in a “satanic killing,” as the jury put it. At the crime site, there was no DNA evidence from the suspects. After a celebrity-backed effort helped rekindle attention in the boys’ case, they were freed from prison in 2011.

Steven Avery

After the blockbuster Netflix documentary series “Making a Murderer” shed attention on one of the most blatant examples of wrongful conviction in the country, Steven Avery became a popular figure and an advocate for the unfairly convicted. After serving eighteen years in jail, Avery was vindicated but was charged and convicted of the murder of Teresa Halbach in another hotly contested case. He is still in prison, despite new evidence from a bloodstain expert indicating that Avery was unfairly charged once more.

The Central Park Five

Many of the problems in our judicial system are highlighted by the famous tale of five teenagers falsely convicted of one of the most terrible crimes conceivable. The boys, who were sentenced to five to fifteen years in prison for the crime, were pushed into making damning statements by police personnel. In 2002, Matais Reyes admitted to the crime for which the defendants were doing time. His story was supported by DNA evidence.

Rubin “Hurricane” Carter

At the height of his boxing career, Carter was charged and convicted of a triple murder. Beginning in 1967, he spent nearly two decades in jail. Carter was freed from jail in 1985 when a judge found criminally driven behavior in the long case record. In 1976, Bob Dylan penned a song about Carter, and Denzel Washington portrayed him in the film “Hurricane” in 1999.

How to Overturn a Wrongful Conviction

You were found guilty of a crime. The issue with this is that you were convicted of a crime you did not commit. The cop who apprehended you had no justification to do so. It’s a matter of “wrong place wrong time” and resembling the real criminal. While overturning a conviction is uncommon, it is not unheard of. We’ve outlined several options for overturning a conviction below.

Motion for Another Trial

Your counsel has 30 days after sentencing to file a petition for a new trial. The lawyer who submits the application for a new trial will likely be the same one who defended you in court, and the judge who reviews the papers will usually be the same one who presided over your previous trial. It will be up to the judge to decide whether your case merits a retrial. Revisiting is seldom permitted, although it may be permitted in exceptional situations, such as an unlawful search or the discovery of fresh evidence.

Direct Appeal

A direct appeal is the most common method of overturning unjust convictions. Your attorney will file documents 30 days following your conviction. Instead of returning to the judge who presided over your trial, your documentation will be sent to a panel of judges. However, these judges do not examine the jury’s judgment to determine if it was correct. They examine your case to discover whether any legal flaws occurred throughout your trial. They may feel the jury’s judgment was incorrect, but unless there is a mistake, they may choose to uphold the conviction.

Writ of Habeas Corpus

After you file a direct appeal, the writ of habeas corpus is typed up and filed. It’s utilized when your lawyer feels your constitutional rights were infringed upon throughout the course of your trial. This usually indicates that your trial attorney made a mistake. They may have forgotten to present a vital piece of evidence to the jury or neglected to question a key witness. You won’t know about these mistakes unless you employ a second wrongful conviction lawyer to check into the first’s mistakes.


When someone who has been found guilty of a crime is formally exonerated based on fresh proof of innocence, this is known as an exoneration. This can happen in one of the following ways.

  • Pardons based on true innocence
  • Acquittal at retrial
  • Vacated conviction and dismissed indictment

DNA Exoneration

When someone who has been found guilty is legally absolved based on post-conviction DNA testing, this is known as DNA exoneration. Essentially, the DNA testing results were decisive in dismissing the verdict or dropping the charge since they proved true innocence. DNA exoneration makes up approximately 15% of all exonerations in the US.

Can I Sue for Wrongful Conviction?

Over 2,500 persons falsely convicted in the United States have been exonerated, according to the National Registry of Exonerations. A false conviction can be caused by a variety of circumstances, including eyewitness misidentification and constitutional breaches such as government wrongdoing. When a constitutional breach occurs, a falsely convicted individual has the legal right to file a civil rights lawsuit.

Can You Receive Compensation for a Wrongful Conviction?

When individuals are exonerated after being wrongfully imprisoned, they usually have two choices for compensation: exoneration legislation or civil rights lawsuits. Exoneration statutes give a remedy regardless of why a person was unfairly imprisoned, but they are sometimes limited by restrictions on the amount a person may be granted. These restrictions apply for each year in prison or the overall sum a person can be granted.

Even though they limit the amount of compensation someone receives, exoneration statutes are great options for those who don’t have legitimate civil rights claims. However, keep in mind that not every state offers compensation. At present, 35 states plus the District of Columbia have these statutes in place. Luckily, Illinois has laws to compensate the wrongfully convicted.

What Can a Wrongful Conviction Lawyer Do for Me?

Wrongful convictions have the potential to not only ruin your present but also your future. The harmful effects that many people experience as a result of conviction and incarceration extend beyond the immediate effects. These experiences often impact your relationships, your bank accounts, your career, and much more. As a result, it’s important to seek justice when you’ve been wronged.

You’ll never get the time back that you spent in prison or that you spent dealing with the wrongful conviction. You can, however, receive compensation for that wasted time and resources. With the help of an experienced and compassionate wrongful conviction lawyer in Chicago, you have hope. Curcio Law Offices stands ready to help you secure a brighter future.

Experienced Chicago Wrongful Conviction Attorneys

If you were wrongfully convicted or incarcerated, there is still hope for your case. Curcio Law Offices offers free and confidential consultations for those wrongfully convicted of crimes they never committed. You deserve not only justice but also compensation. To schedule a consultation with a Chicago wrongful conviction lawyer, please call 312-321-1111 or fill out our online intake form today.