Dissertations, Theses and Capstone Projects

Date of Award

Fall 2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Criminal Justice (MSCJ)

Department

Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Dr. Sutham Cobkit

Second Advisor

Dr. Christopher Totten

Third Advisor

Dr. Lewis VanBrackle

Abstract

This study examined the number of wrongful convictions that were exonerated from January 1, 2004 to September 1, 2012. Four hundred forty seven exoneration cases were examined to obtain the factors that contributed to wrongful convictions, the most common offenses related to wrongful convictions, the evidence that led to a new trial, and the outcome of the exoneration based on dismissal of charges, acquittal, or pardons. Interviews were conducted to obtain exoneration case representation criteria, challenges faced in handling exonerations, and the factors found that contributed to wrongful conviction cases worked on. This study revealed that the most common offenses related to wrongful convictions were murder, sexual assault, child sex abuse, and robbery. The factors that contributed to wrongful convictions were mistaken witness identification, false confession, perjury or false accusation, false or misleading forensic evidence, official misconduct, and inadequate legal defense. The most common outcome for wrongful convictions that were exonerated from January 1, 2004 to September 1, 2012 was that the charges were dismissed and the exoneree was acquitted. Benefits of identifying the factors that have contributed to wrongful convictions can be useful in developing policies and legislation.

COinS