The criminal justice reform movement continues to influence laws about sentencing and prosecutions. Defendants facing South Carolina criminal proceedings may breathe a sigh of relief thanks to a new rule imposed on prosecutors. Prosecutors must now share evidence pointing to a defendant’s innocence even after the defendant gets convicted.
Addressing wrongful convictions
The South Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct saw some revisions in August 2021. The changes involve prosecutors facing a requirement to provide evidence of innocence that may help a wrongfully convicted defendant. The rule changes could allow a convict to seek a remedy to a false conviction thanks to receiving new evidence the defendant previously lacked.
The rule changes could keep hope alive for those facing years behind bars for crimes they did not commit. Forcing prosecutors to share credible evidence about someone’s innocence might keep the person from suffering from a continual miscarriage of justice.
False and wrongful convictions
False convictions appear in many criminal appeals. Corruption during the investigation process may guide law enforcement to coerce or threaten suspects into incriminating themselves with false confessions. The law allows the police to lie to suspects during questioning, which also contributes to false confessions.
Corruption could exist in the prosecutor’s office as well. Prosecutors who withhold exculpatory evidence may ignore the plight of innocent persons behind bars. Hopefully, South Carolina’s new rules may decrease such instances.
Over time, witnesses may come forward, and they could provide testimony that helps the wrongfully accused’s case. Newly discovered DNA evidence may also support the convicted person’s innocence.
High-profile cases of wrongful convictions could raise public awareness about the problem. Changes to the law might provide relief to persons struggling to prove their innocence.