Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Texas Increases Compensation for Those Wrongly Accused of a Crime

The criminal justice system that exists at all levels of our government states as its most important premise that any person accused of wrongdoing is “innocent until proven guilty.” We have laws in place that guarantee the right to a fair and speedy trial, witnesses to speak on behalf of the accused, legal representation, and other components that hopefully work to place the right people behind bars and allow those who are innocent to resume a normal life without punishing consequences. Unfortunately, humans are involved in this process and we do not always get the right result. In some instances, men and women have been wrongly convicted of crimes and lost years of their lives within our prisons. The State Senate in Texas passed a bill yesterday that at least takes a few small steps in rectifying this wrong.

Senate Bill 1736, which is known as the Timothy Cole Act, would increase the compensation granted to those who are exonerated of a crime, or to family members if the proof of innocence comes posthumously. The bill raises the lump sum of payment from $50,000 to $80,000 for each year that the person spent incarcerated in city, county, or state jail. The state is also offering $25,000 for each year wrongly spent on parole or registered as a sex offender. Finally, if the exoneree wishes to continue his education, the state will now offer up to 120 hours of free tuition at a state college.

The criminal defense attorneys at Bertolino LLP work aggressively to make sure that our clients receive the best possible representation when faced with any charges. We are committed to staying on top of changes in the legal community and following every avenue possible to clear the names of the innocent. However, we know that a miscarriage of justice does occasionally happen. If you or a family member has been wrongly convicted of a crime, we want to help. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today.

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