As the saying goes, "proper prior planning prevents poor performance." In a new study looking at the top 10 most common factors leading to wrongful convictions, this saying seems quite applicable. This is especially true given that the study suggests that prevention of such instances has its root cause at the police station itself.

Lack of adherence to institutional protocol for interrogation and investigative techniques can lead to a "'perfect storm' of errors" according to the report. The prevention of these errors also seems to be thwarted by what the researchers called a "collective tunnel vision" by police and prosecutors alike.

This "tunnel vision" often seems to occur when weak cases force the prosecutor to shift his case towards a laser-like focus on the individual accused rather than looking for other suspects. When the case adds up but the case against the accused is weak is when this type of wrongful conviction due to "tunnel vision" tends to occur.

The ten most common factors found by the study include, (1) a state's punitive positive culture linked to the state's death penalty mentality; (2) the strength of the defendant's case; (3) the strength of the prosecution's case; (4) withholding of evidence by the prosecution; (5) forensic evidence errors; (6) age discrimination against defendant; (7) defendant's prior criminal record; (8) an intentional misidentification; (9) false testimonies by non-eyewitnesses; and (10) defense's use of family witnesses on behalf of the defendant.

A wrongful conviction is never acceptable. If you have been falsely charged with a criminal act, please reach out to an attorney immediately. A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney will zealously advocate for your rights on your behalf and assist in navigating the tumultuous legal waters that lie ahead.

Source: Legal Times, "Study Reveals 10 Factors Common in Wrongful Convictions," Mounira Al Hmoud, March 12, 2013