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Phoenix Wrongful Arrest & Incarceration Lawyer

Protecting the Rights of Criminal Suspect & Defendants in Arizona

The U.S. criminal justice system uses the highest burden of proof in U.S. law – beyond a reasonable doubt – as a means to ensure innocent individuals are protected against wrongful imprisonment. In the collective opinion of our society, adoption of such a standard means we believe it is better to let a guilty person go free, than to incarcerate someone who is innocent. Unfortunately, as statistics make clear, false arrests and wrongful incarcerations still happen frequently in America.

At MayesTelles PLLC, our Phoenix attorneys represent clients in a range of civil rights cases, including those which claim the government made wrongful arrests or convictions. If you have a potential case to discuss – involving either yourself or a loved one – our legal team is available to evaluate whether you might have a civil rights claim, and what our award-winning lawyers can do to help.

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Wrongful Arrest & Incarceration Claims in Arizona

Wrongful arrests and convictions may arise from a number of failures and civil rights violations. Although the unique facts vary from case to case, common factors behind a wrongful arrest or incarceration include:

  • Suspect Misidentification: According to the Innocence Project, misidentification is the leading cause of erroneous arrests and convictions. Often, wrongful arrests involving identification errors stem from mistaken accounts of eyewitnesses, whose testimony or ability to identify alleged suspects can degrade over time, or be influenced by police and prosecutors who are overly focused on securing convictions.
  • Unreliable Forensics: Estimates from the Innocence Project suggest nearly 45% of DNA exoneration cases involved misapplied or invalid forensic science. This includes forensics based on insufficiently validated methods, as well as misleading forensic testimony, forensic testing errors, and various forms of misconduct.
  • False / Coerced Confessions: Researchers suggest as many as 1 in 4 wrongfully imprisoned individuals in the U.S. made false confessions, or were coerced into making incriminating statements, admissions of guilt, and confessions by law enforcement. Such issues commonly stem from unlawful interrogation tactics (such as torture, exhaustion, and intimidation of suspects), as well as law enforcement taking advantage of vulnerable individuals (such as minors, persons with physical or mental disabilities, and individuals with limited education or understanding of their legal rights).
  • Incentivized Informants: Informants who have an incentive to testify against criminal defendants are responsible for as much as 15% of all overturned convictions in the United States. Be they jailhouse informants, co-conspirators, or other witnesses or informants, these parties are often incentivized to provide testimony against an individual in exchange for leniency in their own criminal matters. However, the validity and reliability of their testimony is highly questionable.
  • Police and Prosecutor Misconduct: Law enforcement and prosecutors are human, and are not exempt from committing mistakes when detaining, investigating, arresting, or prosecuting suspects and defendants. In some cases, however, their conduct may rise beyond reasonable errors to the level of misconduct – a common cause for wrongful arrest and imprisonment. That’s especially true when cases concern willful witness or evidence tampering, misleading arguments, coercing suspects or co-defendants, false statements, and various violations of procedural rules and defendants’ due process rights, among other missteps.

In Arizona, civil rights claims filed over wrongful arrests and incarceration are different than criminal charges alleging false or unlawful imprisonment. Per A.R.S. § 13-1303, unlawful imprisonment is a crime which involves a person knowingly retraining another against their will.

Wrongful arrest or incarceration, on the other hand, are claims brought by Plaintiffs in civil lawsuits. These claims may stem from any of the factors above, and generally allege that plaintiffs suffered losses – including emotional pain and suffering, anxiety, reputational harm, lost wages, and other damages – as a result of police or prosecutorial misconduct which led to a wrongful arrest, or wrongful incarceration in a jail or prison.

Compassionate Advocates. Proven Civil Rights Attorneys.

While innocent persons should not have to face the devastating consequences of a wrongful arrest or incarceration, and though they should be exonerated in a timely fashion, the current state of the criminal justice system means claimants with such civil rights claims often face complex and contentious legal battles. In an overburdened system where too many turn a blind eye to misconduct and systemic failures, having a compassionate, experienced advocate by your side can make all the difference.

Our Phoenix-based attorneys at MayesTelles are available to speak personally with individuals and families who would like more information about pursuing civil claims over a wrongful arrest or incarceration. Call (602) 428-7104 or contact us online to request your free consultation.

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