Earlier this week, the
St. Louis Post-Dispatch published
Jailed by Mistake, an article that reveals a shocking number of wrongful arrests within
the St. Louis criminal justice system. According to the article, documented
wrongful arrest rates are nothing short of alarming and include:
- 100 wrongful arrests in the past seven years.
- Wrongfully arrested individuals spent more than 2,000 combined days in
jail. One wrongfully accused man was imprisoned for 211 days.
- 15 individuals were incarcerated after the correct suspect had already
These statistics highlight serious problems in St. Louis' criminal
justice system. In nearly every instance of the documented wrongful arrests,
reporters found that avoidable mistakes were made. These mistakes include:
- Errors with identifying suspects and verifying identities of arrested individuals
- Failures to address situations involving false names
- A lack of attention to fingerprints
- Failures to fix errors in record system, resulting in multiple wrongful arrests
- Indifference to protests and pleas to fix mistakes
As a result of such alarming rates of wrongful arrests, many media outlets
and reporters have confronted local law enforcement agencies and officials
– all of whom pledged to further investigate and enact reforms.
Later, however, a senior aide to Mayor Francis Slay commented that wrongful
arrests are a byproduct of a criminal justice system where suspects have
difficulty "telling the truth."
The Rights of Accused Individuals
Individuals facing criminal allegations have legal rights that law enforcement
officers must preserve. As the result of St. Louis' repeated failures
to uphold these rights, the city now faces federal civil suits and a potential
class action lawsuit. Attorneys working the class action case have discovered
more than 80 wrongfully arrested individuals, and believe that many more exist.
Wrongful arrests can devastate accused individuals, especially when the
allegations involve serious violent crimes, theft crimes, or
sex crimes. Individuals who have been wrongfully arrested have a right to defend
themselves in criminal court, and may potentially have grounds for filing
a civil lawsuit. At the Hammer Law Firm, LLC, our St. Louis criminal attorneys
make it our mission to protect the rights of the criminally accused and
to fight aggressively on their behalf.
For more information about wrongful arrests or your case and defense, contact
a St. Louis criminal defense lawyer from The Hammer Law Firm, LLC by filling out a
free case evaluation form.