If you have served any prison time based on a wrongful conviction and have been exonerated by the court, you may be eligible for compensation. Eligibility can occur in a situation where a court has reversed or vacated a judgment of conviction based on grounds consistent with innocence and the charges are dismissed by a prosecutor. A person may also be entitled to compensation where a conviction was reserved on grounds consistent with innocence and a new trial is ordered, but the prosecutor decides to dismiss the charges or there is an acquittal after a trial.
An good example of a case where a person may be entitled to compensation involves a conviction for being a felon in possession of an air powered BB gun. A recent Minnesota Supreme Court decision has determined that an air powered BB gun is not a firearm. If a person is serving prison time for being a felon in possession of a firearm where a BB gun was the firearm, they should retain an exoneration compensation attorney and file a Petition for Post-Conviction Relief seeking to vacate the conviction. Once the conviction is vacated, a petition needs to be filed as soon as possible in the district court seeking a declaration that he or she is eligible for compensation as an exonerated person since the conviction was vacated on grounds consistent with innocence.
Another example of a potential exoneration case would be where a person was convicted and is serving prison time for a felony DWI Test Refusal. The Minnesota Supreme Court has determined that a person can not be prosecuted for refusing a warrantless blood or urine test absent exigent circumstances. In other words, if there was no warrant or some emergency circumstances justifying not obtaining a warrant, the conviction can be vacated by filing of a Petition for Post-Conviction Relief. The next step again would be to retain an exoneration attorney to file a petition declaring eligibility for compensation.
If a petitioner is successful in obtaining a declaration of eligibility, how much money is he entitled to receive from a compensation panel? A minimum of 50K for each year in prison and a minimum of 25K for each year spent on supervised release. If you think you may be entitled to compensation for a wrongful conviction, please call me for a free initial phone consultation at (612) 339-1024.