The last time DeMarlo Berry was a free man, cell phones were used only for phone calls, Mel Gibson won five Academy Awards for “Braveheart” and OJ Simpson was found ‘not guilt’ for killing his ex-wife, Nicole Brown. Jerry Garcia dropped dead of a heart attack and Seinfeld joined Friends and ER as the three most popular television shows.
Berry, 42, has spent over half his life behind bars for a murder he didn’t commit. It’s an understatement to say the world has changed.
On Thursday, Clark County Nevada’s District Attorney announced that an investigation had shown Berry had been wrongfully convicted.
“It was surreal,” Berry said at a press interview. Berry called the feeling of freedom a “neural overload.”
Set free with nothing more than a debit card for his penitentiary store account, Berry went home to his wife, Odilia, whom he wed in 2010 while still incarcerated.
“It was rough,” Odilia told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “But it’s over.”
A record-setting number of persons were absolved in 2015, the last full year for which statistics are currently available.
149 individuals stayed a median of 15 years behind bars before being vindicated as reported by a recent study from the National Registry of Exonerations.
Of the persons wrongly convicted of homicides, like Berry, the report says, “over two-thirds were an ethnic minority, including 50% who were African American.”
The idea that prosecuting attorneys would one day spend their day reviewing previous convictions is new. Traditionally most see their part as convicting at trial and securing victories in all petitions to appeal — not assessing if evidence undermines a conviction.
More than 25% of all vindications in 2016 came out of a single office, Harris County, Texas. District Attorneys found that prior, threatening tactics led some litigants to plead guilty to crimes which never happened.
Harris County’s review is “a window into the world of plea bargaining in misdemeanors, the study reports.
No one imagines they will be wrongfully arrested for a crime. Wrongful convictions often happen — more than we want to think. The notoriety enclosing ‘Making a Murder’ made more people realize some persons are incarcerated for offenses they didn’t commit.
What can someone do if they’re wrongfully accused? Very little, but with the help of the right attorney unfair charges can be fought — successfully.
Nicholas Wooldridge, a prominent Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorney, suggests five things to do immediately if wrongfully accused.
Too frequently upright defendants don’t get legal representation until too late. Most people assume their innocence will be clear or that having a defense lawyer makes them appear guilty. The reverse is true. The innocent need legal counsel more than the criminal — especially during the beginning of the investigation.
The right to stay silent is established in the U.S. Constitution — use it. When falsely accused, it’s attractive to maintain your innocence. While you want to explain your view of the story, any deviations will make you look more criminal. Utilize the right to keep quiet until you’ve spoken with a criminal lawyer.
Turn down any optional searchers or testing. Even if you’re sure a DNA specimen will make your credulity clearer, you never know what law enforcement may find. Making police get a warrant will guarantee all rules are observed. Unless court ordered, ou has the right to decline any searchers or tests.
Collect all proof in your favor and don’t destroy anything you belive doesn’t work for you. Just because you shouldn’t allow a search requiring a warrant doesn’t mean you might not have sufficient corroboration of your innocence. Gather everything in one place and show it to your attorney.
Understand your ordeal won’t be easier just because you’re innocent. When you’re accused of a crime, the police have concluded you are guilty — and you will be treated like a guilty person. The innocent should have a simpler time inside the justice system, but that isn’t reality.It’s difficult to prove that something didn’t happen, so be prepared for an expensive and frustrating fight.