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Wrongfully Prosecuted, Falsely Accused of a Crime, Wrongful Imprisonment

Steve Lombardi
Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death

Blog Category:
11/27/2013
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Question: Can I sue for being wrongfully prosecuted for a crime I did not commit after being incarcerated for 3 years?

Question Detail: I was wrongfully prosecuted for a crime I did not commit based upon a victim and a witness saying they saw me through a rear view mirror firing at a car as they were pulling off. I was arrested twice. After the first time was let go, and rearrested to be placed in an unlawful lineup where the victim and witness pointed me out. The state had no other evidence besides victim and witness testimony which was inconceivable to the jury and found me not guilty after about 3 years on all 15 counts?

Answer: Like I've done you are using the wrong terminology. The cause of action is ‘wrongful imprisonment’, not wrongful prosecution or wrongful incarceration. But I’m sure for you it’s a distinction without a difference.

You might be able to win your case. But it will depend on the facts and your answer to two basic questions:

  • Did you do the crime? If not will the evidence weigh against a jury believing you didn't do it?
  • And second, did someone lie during the investigation that led to your incarceration?

THOSE BLOODY DAMAGES

Of course then then it depends on damages including what you lost in those three years, such as a good paying job. I’ll provide a few links to read but keep in mind they may be outdated. You should see a lawyer and if we can help use the contact form on our website.

RESOURCES:

Iowa Wrongful Imprisonment chapter 663A

Quote from the Clinton gentleman’s case:

The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that a Clinton man whose sexual abuse conviction was overturned and who was later found not guilty by a jury has the right to pursue a wrongful imprisonment case against the state.

However, the court ruled Friday that the case of David DeSimone must go back to district court so the judge can consider evidence admitted in the two trials and make a new determination about whether he was wrongfully imprisoned.

DeSimone, 54, was convicted of third-degree sexual abuse in 2005 and sentenced to prison for 15 years.

He was accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl at an October 2004 party at his apartment.

No DNA or other physical evidence was found and the case centered mostly on witness testimony.

He appealed the conviction, claiming prosecutors failed to disclose evidence that would have cast doubt on the testimony of a prosecution witness. The Iowa Supreme Court in 2011 overturned his conviction and ordered a new trial.

Here is the statute:

Iowa Wrongful Imprisonment chapter 663A

CHAPTER 663A WRONGFUL IMPRISONMENT 
663A.1 WRONGFUL IMPRISONMENT -- CAUSE OF ACTION.

663A.1  WRONGFUL IMPRISONMENT -- CAUSE OF ACTION.
         1.  As used in this section, a "wrongfully imprisoned person"
      means an individual who meets all of the following criteria:
         a.  The individual was charged, by indictment or information,
      with the commission of a public offense classified as an aggravated
      misdemeanor or felony.
         b.  The individual did not plead guilty to the public offense
      charged, or to any lesser included offense, but was convicted by the
      court or by a jury of an offense classified as an aggravated
      misdemeanor or felony.
         c.  The individual was sentenced to incarceration for a term
      of imprisonment not to exceed two years if the offense was an
      aggravated misdemeanor or to an indeterminate term of years under
      chapter 902 if the offense was a felony, as a result of the
      conviction.
         d.  The individual's conviction was vacated or dismissed, or
      was reversed, and no further proceedings can be or will be held
      against the individual on any facts and circumstances alleged in the
      proceedings which had resulted in the conviction.
         e.  The individual was imprisoned solely on the basis of the
      conviction that was vacated, dismissed, or reversed and on which no
      further proceedings can be or will be had.
         2.  Upon receipt of an order vacating, dismissing, or reversing
      the conviction and sentence in a case for which no further
      proceedings can be or will be held against an individual on any facts
      and circumstances alleged in the proceedings which resulted in the
      conviction, the district court shall make a determination whether
      there is clear and convincing evidence to establish either of the
      following findings:
         a.  That the offense for which the individual was convicted,
      sentenced, and imprisoned, including any lesser included offenses,
      was not committed by the individual.
         b.  That the offense for which the individual was convicted,
      sentenced, and imprisoned was not committed by any person, including
      the individual.
         3.  If the district court finds that there is clear and convincing
      evidence to support either of the findings specified in subsection 2,
      the district court shall do all of the following:
         a.  Enter an order finding that the individual is a wrongfully
      imprisoned person.
         b.  Orally inform the person and the person's attorney that
      the person has a right to commence a civil action against the state
      under chapter 669 on the basis of wrongful imprisonment.
         4.  Within seven days of entry of the order finding that an
      individual is a wrongfully imprisoned person, the clerk of court
      shall forward a copy of the order, together with a copy of this
      section, to the individual named in the order.
         5.  A claim for wrongful imprisonment under this section is a
      "claim" for purposes of chapter 669, notwithstanding anything in
      section 669.14 to the contrary.  Notwithstanding section 669.8,
      however, an action brought under this section shall not preclude or
      otherwise limit any action or claim for relief based on any negligent
      or wrongful acts or omissions which arose during the period of the
      wrongful imprisonment, but which are not related to the facts and
      circumstances underlying the conviction or proceedings to obtain
      relief from the conviction.
         6.  Damages recoverable from the state by a wrongfully imprisoned
      person under this section are limited to the following:
         a.  The amount of restitution for any fine, surcharge, other
      penalty, or court costs imposed and paid and any reasonable
      attorney's fees and expenses incurred in connection with all criminal
      proceedings and appeals regarding the wrongfully imposed judgment and
      sentence and such fees and expenses incurred in connection with any
      civil actions and proceedings for postconviction relief which are
      related to the wrongfully imposed judgment and sentence.
         b.  An amount of liquidated damages in an amount equal to
      fifty dollars per day of wrongful imprisonment.
         c.  The value of any lost wages, salary, or other earned
      income which directly resulted from the individual's conviction and
      imprisonment, up to twenty-five thousand dollars per year.
         d.  The value of reasonable attorney's fees for services
      provided in connection with an action under this section.
         7.  In awarding damages under this section, the state appeal board
      or the court shall not offset the award by any expenses incurred by
      the state or any political subdivision of the state in connection
      with the arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment of the individual,
      including, but not limited to, expenses for food, clothing, shelter,
      and medical care.
         8.  Actions under this section shall be commenced within two years
      of entry of the district court order adjudging the individual to be a
      wrongfully imprisoned person.  

         Section History: Recent Form

         97 Acts, ch 196, §1



Category: General


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