Criminal defense can be a difficult business. Everyone accused of a crime by prosecutors in the United States is allowed legal representation as part of their defense. This is a very important right, especially in jurisdictions with histories of aggressive prosecution. Sometimes, a lawyer is the last line of defense for a career and a life.
Michigan’s attorney general is responding to a two-year period with a record number of overturned criminal convictions with the formation of a conviction integrity unit to investigate claims of innocence after prosecution. This move comes 18 months after Wayne County, home to Detroit, began their own unit.
Advocates claim that many wrongful convictions are related to misbehavior by police, either individual officers or systemic issues within Detroit’s department. Lawsuits regarding citizen mistreatment or police brutality were regrettably common in Wayne County until an intervention by the federal government.
“We have a duty to ensure those convicted of state crimes by county prosecutors and our office are in fact guilty of those crimes,” said the attorney general. “By establishing this unit, we will work to make certain those ethical and legal obligations are met while providing justice to those wrongfully imprisoned and keeping dangerous offenders out of Michigan communities.”
People accused of or charged with crimes are allowed under law to protect themselves and their reputations by pleading not guilty or working with prosecutors to reduce charges. These processes are often easier with a lawyer on the side of the accused. An attorney can help them and their families prepare for their day in court.