Nearly 4 decades after being wrongly convicted of killing a Boston cab driver, Frederick Clay is now a free man. Arrested just 2 weeks after his 16th birthday, Clay was charged with first-degree murder in the 1979 shooting of 28-year old Jeffrey Boyajian. While the boy professed his innocence, witnesses testified they had seen Clay shoot Boyajian from the back of a taxi, which ultimately led to a life sentence without parole.
While in prison, Clay never stopped proclaiming his innocence. During the case, he testified he had been at this foster home at the time of the shooting, which his foster mother confirmed. The Committee for Public Counsel Services Innocence Program, along with Clay’s criminal defense lawyers, eventually filed a motion for a new trial. They argued the testimonies of the witnesses were unreliable. Witnesses had identified Clay as the shooter only after being hypnotized, an antiquated identification method that would not stand up in court today. The district attorney told the judge because of this new evidence, they would vacate Clay’s conviction. After 38 years in prison, Clay was released on August 8th, 2017.
Frederick Clay’s wrongful conviction isn’t rare. According to a recent study, around 1% of people behind bars are thought to be punished for crimes they did not commit. With approximately 2.2 million people currently in jail in the United States, that would translate to about 22,000 wrongful convictions.
Challenging Your Wrongful Conviction
As Frederick Clay’s case shows, an experienced criminal defense attorney can look at your case carefully and find ways to fight for an overturned conviction. Your lawyer may be able to get you off if:
- Errors were made during your trial
- The judge or jury showed prejudice or bias
- Your trial lawyer was incompetent
- The police violated your rights
- Witness testimony was unreliable
- There was not enough evidence to lay charges
- Missing evidence was found
- DNA is retested
- Advances in technology were made
Note: If you pled guilty in a plea bargain, you may have agreed to waive your right to appeal your sentence. However, if the judge breached the terms of the plea bargain, the court will normally allow you to pursue an appeal.
If your lawyer finds enough to challenge your wrongful conviction, they can either make a motion asking the judge to overturn the jury’s guilty verdict, move for a new trial, or appeal and ask a higher court to reverse a conviction. An appeal can take a few months or even several years for more complex matters.Overturning a criminal conviction is a challenge that requires an experienced criminal defense lawyer such as ours at the Law Office of Kevin F. Moot. We represent clients in and around Weston, Florida across different types of criminal cases, including theft, assault, battery, drug possession, DUI, weapons offenses and more. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Contact us today!