High Rates of Wrongful Arrests in St. Louis Lead to Lawsuits

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 been arrested.

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.

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