False imprisonment is an injustice that is hard to correct. If you have been falsely imprisoned in Florida, the good news is that you are in one of the thirty-five states that allow the wrongly imprisoned to receive compensation from the state. Several people who had been falsely imprisoned for decades are being exonerated based on newly available evidence such as DNA testing. You should start your pursuit for compensation as soon as your exoneration process begins because the law is full of technical restrictions that bar victims from receiving their rightful compensation.
A crucial part of receiving the compensation you are owed by the state is hiring a reputable lawyer who is well experienced in wrongful imprisonment suits. Stroleny Law, P.A. is a leading firm that you can rely on to expertly navigate your suit and get the best outcome possible. Winning compensation for wrongful imprisonment is challenging because the bar for eligibility is very high. The clean hands and ninety-day limit provisions in the 2008 law act as barriers to compensation for the victims of wrongful prosecution.
Compensation Limits for Wrongful Conviction and Imprisonment
Florida’s law on compensation for false imprisonment, which was passed in 2008, entitles anyone wrongfully convicted to cash compensation of $50,000 per year of imprisonment and free state college tuition. Eligible victims can expect to receive any amount ranging from $50,000 to $2 million depending on the length of their incarceration. If you want to maximize your chance of getting the highest amount of compensation possible, you must begin your claim as soon as possible by hiring a competent attorney.
The highest compensation that a wrongfully convicted prisoner has received in Florida is the jaw-dropping sum of $2.15 million. In 2011, James Bain was awarded $1.7 million in compensation for the 35 years he served on a wrongful child rape conviction. Alan Crotzer received $1.25 million in 2008 after serving 24 years on rape, and home invasion charges that he was later exonerated of. William Dodge was awarded $2 million in 2005 in compensation for the 22-year prison sentence he served for a wrongful rape conviction.
Eligibility for Compensation When Wrongfully Imprisoned
Not every wrongfully convicted and imprisoned person gets the compensation they deserve. Several restrictions impede many prisoners from being eligible for compensation. The biggest hurdle in the road to compensation is the clean hand’s provision which prohibits the state from compensating any prisoner with a prior felony conviction. Out of thirteen Florida residents exonerated by DNA evidence, only one qualified for statutory compensation; two got payment through special legislative claim bills.
The Florida legislature eased the clean hands’ restriction in 2017, recognizing that most prisoners are repeat offenders. It is manifestly unjust to deny compensation for wrongful conviction on that sole fact. Activists correctly pointed out that former felons are at greater risk of being falsely convicted because the police, prosecutors, and juries are more likely to target the usual suspects.
The new restrictions only prohibit the state from compensating any exonerated prisoner that was previously convicted of more than one non-violent or violent felony. The amendment of the 2008 law has opened the door to victims who had been unfairly denied compensation. If your application for compensation has been rejected due to a previous felony conviction, it is advisable to consult a lawyer for a professional reevaluation of your claim.
Deadlines to File a Compensation Claim for Wrongful Conviction
Another barrier to receiving the compensation entitled to wrongfully convicted prisoners is that that the state gives a claimant 90 days after their exoneration within which to file their claim. Unfortunately, many exonerated people can spend more than 90 days after their exoneration date while still in prison; therefore, applying by the deadline may be difficult. Whether you have been set free or are still in state custody, it is crucial to seek legal representation you can trust to initiate and effectively pursue your legal claim.
Which Exonerees Does the 2008 Law Apply To?
The law currently only applies to prisoners who were exonerated after the 2008 enactment. Since then, a new bill has been introduced in the state legislature that aims to allow retroactive eligibility for people who were exonerated before 2008. If it passes, this bill will open the door to more claimants. The National Registry of Exonerations records that 73 people in Florida have been found innocent and exonerated of wrongful convictions since 1989