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Preventing & Addressing Wrongful Convictions in New York City


There is no question that one of the most important jobs criminal defense attorneys have is to prevent wrongful convictions and to protect people’s constitutional rights, which includes obtaining exonerations for those who have been wrongfully convicted. The factors that have sent hundreds of innocent people to prison – here in the United States more than in any other country – include false accusations and confessions, mistaken identity, perjury, mistaken identification, poor forensic evidence, misconduct, and racial bias.

Growing Exonerations

Over the last 30 years, the number of exonerations have grown dramatically due to a number of factors, such as mistakes made during drug identifications (often due to defective field test kits), increasing DNA testing, and greater prosecution accountability. DNA tests alone have accounted for approximately one-fourth of all exonerations in the last 30 years, and false accusations or perjury accounted for more than half of exonerations; most often to related to child sex abuse and homicide cases.

Approximately 90 percent of all exonerees were men, with black men representing 50 percent of his total. These crimes ranged from drug offenses to murder, with the death penalty often applied for the latter. In addition, half of all sexual assault cases associated with faulty witness identification involved allegations of black men assaulting white women, indicating a strong racial bias when it comes to witness identification.

Compensation For Wrongful Conviction

As exonerations have increased, so has compensation provided to those who have served prison time after being wrongfully convicted: New York has had the third highest number of exonerations in the last 30 years, with close to 300 people exonerated in total. And in New York there is no limit on remuneration; for example, the men in the Central Park Five case received a settlement from New York totaling $40 million.

Indeed, real-life stories of wrongful convictions and remunerations are numerous here in New York, and include the recent release of Mark Denny, who spent almost three decades in prison for rape and robbery charges that he was innocent of, and who will now be paid close to $10 million as part of a settlement that released the city, including allegations that the New York Police Department framed the now-cleared ex-con; allegations that could have potentially won Denny $50 million had he gone to court against the city. His claims allege that a dozen NYPD detectives fabricated evidence and failed to check his alibi, as well as conduct standard tests including hair, fingernail scrapings, and collecting other forensic evidence from the scene.

Contact Our New York City Criminal Defense Attorneys

Do not let yourself become a victim of wrongful conviction: If you have been accused of a crime, contact our experienced NYC criminal attorneys at the office of Mark I. Cohen, Esq. today to ensure that your rights are protected.




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Avvo Reviews Mark L. Cohen


"... Mr. Cohen's effort... in everything he has done before the Court, is A-Plus... [R]ecently, in another case... [before me], the result he achieved for his client... was quite impressive." Honorable Kenneth M. Karas, United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York.


"So I have very sophisticated counsel here and, Mr. Cohen, [your client] is very fortunate in having you as his attorney, and I hope he appreciates that." – Quote from the Honorable Denise L. Cote, United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York.


"As Mark Cohen, a defense lawyer who has tried cases throughout the city and was a prosecutor in the Bronx, pointed out, there is a saying among defense lawyers in New York." – As provided in the New York Times City Room Blog.

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