Imagine you’ve been convicted of a crime you didn’t commit. Maybe you were framed, or perhaps you were the victim of inaccurate eyewitness identification. It may sound implausible, but unfortunately, the criminal justice system is not perfect—and mistakes happen.
Being sent away to prison when you’re innocent is a crushing prospect. You could lose the best years of your life—a debt which is virtually impossible to repay. However, if your attorney is able to prove your innocence and get you released after the fact, the state of Florida has a legal obligation to try to make amends for its mistake.
If you are wrongfully incarcerated, the state of Florida must:
- Pay you $50,000 for each year you served behind bars—pro-rated for any partial year served. This rate may also be adjusted for inflation.
- Reimburse you for any penalties, fines and court costs you incurred in conjunction with your mistaken arrest and conviction.
- Compensate you for any attorney fees connected to your criminal proceedings as well as any appeals.
In total, the above restitution package may not exceed $2 million.
In addition, you are also eligible to receive up to 120 hours of education at any career center or Florida-based college or university free of charge—provided that you make appropriate academic progress while enrolled, according to the standards of the academic institution.
Finally, your criminal record will be expunged immediately and free of charge. This means that you will be able to start your life again with a clean slate—and you will have no criminal history that could prevent you from landing a job, getting a loan or renting an apartment.
If you’ve been wrongfully convicted, it’s not the end of the road for you. An experienced criminal defense attorney can continue to search for holes in the trial proceedings or track down exculpatory evidence that can get you freed.