When charged with a crime, everyone has the right to a criminal defense attorney, whether in Austin or anywhere else in the nation. It is of extreme importance that those who are charged have access not just to any attorney, but a competent and qualified criminal defense attorney who has the experience to navigate the judicial system.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported on a tragic case that perfectly illustrates this necessity. The state’s first historical marker dedicated to an innocent person who died in prison was unveiled this week at Mount Olivet Cemetery. The marker was placed at the gravesite of Tim Cole who was convicted 26 years ago for a rape that he did not commit.
Mr. Cole’s family and those involved in his exoneration were present at the ceremony at the cemetery. Earlier in the day, several people associated with the Cole case spoke to an assembly at Texas Wesleyan Law School. One of those present was Michele Mallin, who picked Cole out of a photo lineup after she had been kidnapped and raped at knife-point as a 20-year-old sophomore at Texas Tech. Cole was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Later, an attorney approached Mallin and asked her to help exonerate Cole because DNA testing proved that he was not the rapist. Mallin worked tirelessly to clear his name, and in 2009, the Texas Legislature enacted the Tim Cole Act that compensates wrongly convicted individuals.
Jeff Blackburn, an attorney with Innocence Project, commented that wrongful convictions will most likely continue until something is done to reform the system. According to Blackburn, the police who arrest the wrong people, the attorneys who prosecute them and the judges who sentence them are never held accountable for their mistakes. Consequently, he says, there are innocent people in prison today.
Luckily, a competent criminal defense attorney can help keep someone from being wrongly convicted of a crime. Many of those who are wrongly incarcerated are represented by public defenders or by those without extensive experience in criminal defense. It is not that these attorneys were not willing to work hard to represent these clients; however, many public defenders simply have too large of a case load or lack the necessary experience to adequately defend these clients.
An experienced criminal defense attorney, on the other hand, will have the wherewithal and the expertise to fully investigate every aspect of a case, working to bring justice to the client and to avoid a wrongful conviction or imprisonment. Anyone in Austin who has been charged with a criminal offense should hire the very best and most experienced criminal defense attorney in Austin.