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Man who pleaded no contest at trial is exonerated

The criminal justice system contains some procedural safeguards. However, sometimes an attorney's advice is needed to ensure the system works properly.

That may be the sentiment of one man who was recently exonerated from a sex offense. The man was exonerated after undergoing nearly six years of imprisonment, subsequent probation and registration as a sex offender. Throughout the ordeal, the man had maintained his innocence. However, he had entered a plea of no contest at his trial, perhaps fearing even harsher sentencing if he had fought the charge.

Perjury, faulty eyewitness identification, and prosecutorial misconduct are among the leading reasons for wrongful convictions, according to one national registry. Prosecutors or police may be under pressure to achieve results. Your status as innocent until proven guilty may be easy to forget when the police are questioning you with a one-sided, investigative purpose.

Many in the criminal justice system have advocated for changes like the videotaping of police interrogations and new practices for eyewitness identifications. Until those reforms happen, it is important to have an attorney by your side.

As this story illustrates, an attorney's advice -- such as entering a plea of no contest -- might significantly impact your case. A criminal defense attorney that has a good relationship with prosecutors will undoubtedly improve your chances of receiving a fair trial. At a minimum, having an attorney on your side that is able to create an environment of mutual respect will ensure the criminal justice system operates with the procedural safeguards with which it was intended.

Source: CNN, "Exonerated in rape case, man lines up NFL tryouts," Brad Lendon, May 31, 2012

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