You did not do anything wrong, but the jury still finds you guilty. Maybe it’s just bad luck. Maybe the jury is biased against you. Perhaps you accidentally implicated yourself even though you were innocent.
Regardless, you wind up in jail for a year. After those long 12 months, when you cannot believe this happened to you, DNA evidence comes to the rescue. It proves that someone else committed the crime, and you get released.
Does the state owe you anything? You lost a year of your life. Surely they can’t just say “Well, mistakes happen.” Right?
That was not always true. The states get to set their compensation levels on their own. Some states are required to pay nothing at all, and Michigan was one of them until very recently. In fact, the first mandatory compensation payout was just last year, in 2017. That law was signed in December of 2016.
How much should you get? The law stipulates that you can get $50,000 for every year that you spent behind bars.
Is that worth it? Some may believe it is. After all, it pays you as though you were making $50,000 a year at work, making up for the lost wages.
Of course, there are those who would argue that jail time is about far more than just lost wages. Your reputation suffered. Living behind bars stripped you of many other freedoms. You lost time with your family that you can never get back.
If you do get wrongfully convicted, you need to make sure you understand all of your legal options. This is especially true any time the laws change significantly.