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African-Americans more likely to be wrongfully convicted

Washington residents may be interested to learn that, according to a study, African-Americans are more prone to be falsely convicted of certain crimes than white Americans. The study analyzed the cases of about 1,900 defendants who were convicted on violent crime or drug charges between 1989 and 2016 and were then later exonerated.

Of the defendants, it was found that about 47 percent were black Americans, making up three times their representation in the general population. The study also analyzed the cases based on the different charges. For example, the results showed that black Americans were seven times more likely to be convicted and then later exonerated on murder charges. Black Americans were more 12 times more likely to be wrongfully convicted on drug charges.

The study also analyzed the factors behind wrongful convictions. For the murder cases where the defendant was black, researchers found that the rate of official misconduct was higher. Other factors involved in wrongful convictions were identified as institutional discrimination, explicit racism and unconscious bias. Another study showed that the number of exonerations were increasing. In 2015, there were 160 exonerations. The number increased to 166 in 2016.

People who have been handed drug charges could potentially be facing consequences that could include a jail sentence and fines if a conviction is obtained. An attorney can often spot holes in the prosecution's case that could lead to a dismissal of the charges, such as a search conducted without probable cause. In other cases, particularly when it is a first offense, the attorney could seek a plea agreement with the prosecutor that would entail a plea of guilty to a lesser offense with a reduction in penalties.

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