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State of North Carolina compensates wrongly convicted man

On Behalf of | May 5, 2021 | criminal law

It is always an injustice when an innocent person is convicted and suffers a long prison sentence. But, what happens after the circumstances are made right and the individual is released? Recently, the state of North Carolina paid compensation to a man who spent 44 years in prison after an overturned conviction. The situation has raised some discussion regarding how such circumstances should be handled, and of course, how they can be prevented in the first place. 

Was any recompense awarded for the mistake? 

As compensation for his 44 years in prison on an overturned conviction, Ronnie Long received $750,000. This is the top compensation available from the state of North Carolina for those who are wrongly incarcerated. However, after spending over four decades behind bars, he and some advocates feel the amount is inadequate.   

What details led to the overturned conviction? 

For Long’s conviction to be overturned, it needed to be proven in court that something went wrong with the past trial to cause a guilty verdict without proper protocol. This was done by showcasing that the defense was not provided with evidence that could have been used in his defense, known as “exculpatory evidence.” Additionally, they were able to prove that the pool of jurors was tampered. Following the federal court overturning his conviction, Long was released from prison and pardoned by the governor. 

As can be seen in the case of Ronnie Long, the costs of a trial that ends in a guilty verdict can be extreme. However, there are ways for guilty verdicts to be overturned. Before an initial trial or potential appeal, working an experienced North Carolina lawyer can play an important role in the process and outcome.