Wrongfully Convicted In Broward County? You Can Now Apply To Have Your Case Reviewed
People wrongfully convicted of crimes in Broward County have a brand new option to try to correct their records and repair their lives.
The Broward County State Attorney’s Office announced it is taking online applications for people to request independent reviews of their cases if they believe they were wrongfully convicted. The office’s Conviction Review Unit had a soft launch earlier this year, during which it has been figuring out how the “independent review panels” will operate.
As of Friday, the unit is fully operational.
“Sending an innocent person to prison, no matter what the offense, is devastating to the individual, their loved ones, and the community. It is a prosecutor’s worst nightmare,” Broward State Attorney Mike Satz said in a statement. “No one benefits when an innocent person is convicted and the real offender is not held accountable.”
To get a case reviewed, it has to meet 12 points of specific criteria, including that it needs to be a Broward felony case; that the claim is supported by evidence or information that was never presented in the original court case; that the appeals process has been finished; and other things. Read here for the full list of criteria and the application form.
Broward’s new unit is the fourth dedicated to reviewing past cases for wrongful convictions in Florida, and the first in South Florida. The state attorney’s offices in Jacksonville, Tampa and Orlando have similar units, all of which started since last year.
The work of these units can be life changing. The 4th Judicial Circuit, which includes Jacksonville, created the first unit of its kind in Florida. Since then, it has helped free two men who spent 42 years in prison for a murder for which they were wrongfully convicted.
Prosecutors across the country have increasingly been creating these units. The first Conviction Review Units (sometimes called Conviction Integrity Units) started in Texas and California, and have since spread to New York, Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania and other states.
The panel that will review cases in Broward will be made up of legal experts and members of the community from outside the prosecutor’s office. They will sit on rotating panels where they will review cases and make recommendations. The Broward State Attorney’s Office is also taking applications to sit on this panel. That application can be found here.