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 I’ll provide a few links to read but keep in mind they may be outdated.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.
Iowa Wrongful Imprisonment chapter 663A
- A Google search for “Iowa wrongful incarceration” turned up this story:
- A recent news item about a Clinton man, Iowa Supreme Court rules Iowan may pursue wrongful imprisonment claim, Clinton man's sexual abuse conviction was overturned, November 16, 2013
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 aggravatedmisdemeanor or felony.b. The individual did not plead guilty to the public offensecharged, or to any lesser included offense, but was convicted by thecourt or by a jury of an offense classified as an aggravatedmisdemeanor or felony.c. The individual was sentenced to incarceration for a termof imprisonment not to exceed two years if the offense was anaggravated misdemeanor or to an indeterminate term of years underchapter 902 if the offense was a felony, as a result of theconviction.d. The individual's conviction was vacated or dismissed, orwas reversed, and no further proceedings can be or will be heldagainst the individual on any facts and circumstances alleged in theproceedings which had resulted in the conviction.e. The individual was imprisoned solely on the basis of theconviction that was vacated, dismissed, or reversed and on which nofurther proceedings can be or will be had.2. Upon receipt of an order vacating, dismissing, or reversingthe conviction and sentence in a case for which no furtherproceedings can be or will be held against an individual on any factsand circumstances alleged in the proceedings which resulted in theconviction, the district court shall make a determination whetherthere is clear and convincing evidence to establish either of thefollowing 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, includingthe individual.3. If the district court finds that there is clear and convincingevidence 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 wrongfullyimprisoned person.b. Orally inform the person and the person's attorney thatthe person has a right to commence a civil action against the stateunder chapter 669 on the basis of wrongful imprisonment.4. Within seven days of entry of the order finding that anindividual is a wrongfully imprisoned person, the clerk of courtshall forward a copy of the order, together with a copy of thissection, 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 insection 669.14 to the contrary. Notwithstanding section 669.8,however, an action brought under this section shall not preclude orotherwise limit any action or claim for relief based on any negligentor wrongful acts or omissions which arose during the period of thewrongful imprisonment, but which are not related to the facts andcircumstances underlying the conviction or proceedings to obtainrelief from the conviction.6. Damages recoverable from the state by a wrongfully imprisonedperson under this section are limited to the following:a. The amount of restitution for any fine, surcharge, otherpenalty, or court costs imposed and paid and any reasonableattorney's fees and expenses incurred in connection with all criminalproceedings and appeals regarding the wrongfully imposed judgment andsentence and such fees and expenses incurred in connection with anycivil actions and proceedings for postconviction relief which arerelated to the wrongfully imposed judgment and sentence.b. An amount of liquidated damages in an amount equal tofifty dollars per day of wrongful imprisonment.c. The value of any lost wages, salary, or other earnedincome which directly resulted from the individual's conviction andimprisonment, up to twenty-five thousand dollars per year.d. The value of reasonable attorney's fees for servicesprovided in connection with an action under this section.7. In awarding damages under this section, the state appeal boardor the court shall not offset the award by any expenses incurred bythe state or any political subdivision of the state in connectionwith 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 yearsof entry of the district court order adjudging the individual to be awrongfully imprisoned person.
Section History: Recent Form97 Acts, ch 196, §1