In the past year, stories of criminal exonerations were scattered throughout the news media and became a hot topic. This is because of the shockingly high number of exonerations that took place in the United States. In 2014 alone, there were 125 exonerations based on DNA and non-DNA, as compared to 2013 in which there was only 91. That is a 37% increase, which is drastic for the criminal justice system. In these exonerations, there are a number of contributing factors. Some factors include false accusations, mistaken identity, official misconduct, faulty forensic evidence and false confessions.
Prosecutorial misconduct, mistaken identity and misleading or false forensic evidence play the biggest role in the exonerations of those convicted of sex crimes against adults and children. As of 2014, misconduct from government officials has played the role in 46% of the exonerations of those convicted of child sexual abuse. However, other contributing factors, like inadequate legal counsel and false accusations, can also play a large part in false convictions of those accused of criminal sexual conduct with a minor.
Terrence Jose, for example, was convicted in 2010 of committing criminal sexual conduct on his 5-year-old daughter in Oakland County, Michigan. The girl accused her father of digitally penetrating her buttocks after repeated questioning from her mother, which brought a charge of first degree criminal sexual conduct. At first, the girl denied anyone penetrated her, but then accused Jose. The girl's counselor also had the same encounter about the allegations and the girl even extended her story to include more stories about what happened to her. During his testimony, Jose stated that he believed the girl's mother had swayed her into making the false accusations because of a bad break up and refusing to work things out. However, evidence in the form of text messages sent from the mother to the father were not allowed to be admitted at Jose's trial, and in turn, was one of the contributing factors of his conviction. After the granting of a motion for a new trial and a prosecutorial appeal, The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed a new trial for Jose. Oakland County prosecutors then dropped all charges against Jose after another interview of his daughter took place and she denied that any sexual abuse ever happened to her, thereby exonerating him of his conviction.
Terrence Jose was one of seven people exonerated in Michigan in 2014 and one of the 12 people exonerated of a sex crime charge across the United States. Although 12 seems like a small number, even one false conviction of sexual assault is one too many.
At the Law Offices of Shannon M. Smith, we are dedicated to defending those charged with criminal sexual conduct against adults and children. We have defended charges brought because of false accusations and false confessions. It is our focus to give a person charged with criminal sexual conduct the best legal counsel and best defense. We focus on sex crimes, which ensures our experience and knowledge in defending these cases. If you are facing charges of criminal sexual conduct, or any other sex crime, contact our office to set up a consultation.