What this Means for Criminal Defendants and their Attorneys
Last year, Ted Stevens, the 85-year-old former Senator from Alaska was convicted of corruption charges. Charges against Stevens played a pivotal role in voters failing to reelect the seven-term senator to office. But months after jurors found Stevens guilty, the Attorney General dismissed the case citing prosecutorial misconduct. This case is a prime example of the potential for misconduct by both federal and state prosecutors.
Over four years ago, the California state Senate created a commission to investigate the causes of wrongful convictions. The Senate created the commission in response to mounting exonerations of death-row inmates nationwide through DNA testing. The commission found that the most common type of prosecutorial misconduct was failure to disclose exculpatory evidence.
Both federal and state prosecutors have both constitutional, as well as ethical obligations to alert defense lawyers to evidence that is potentially exculpatory. Exculpatory evidence is evidence that may be used to justify or excuse an accused defendant’s actions, and which will tend to show the defendant is not guilty or has no criminal intent.
In former Senator Steven’s matter, federal prosecutors hid exculpatory evidence on five separate occasions before the trial. Steven’s attorney was made aware of the exculpatory evidence after the trial had concluded, and the damage to the reputation of the former Senator had been done. Fortunately for Stevens, the evidence was brought to light, and the conviction was thrown out. However the damage and harm to his reputation cannot be so easily restored.
If you or a loved one is being investigated for a crime, or charged with a crime, it is imperative that you hire an attorney. Hiring an experienced Southern California criminal defense law firm can greatly increase your chances of keeping your freedom. The attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have been helping people keep their freedom for over 30 years.
Please feel free to contact Wallin & Klarich to discuss your case. You can reach us at 888-280-6839 or go to our website at www.wklaw.com for more information.