Friday, 11 July 2008

Wrongful Incarceration Compensation in Florida

A new law which allows a person wrongfully convicted and incarcerated of a felony to apply for compensation from the State was to take effect July 1, 2008.

After the court's order vacating the felony conviction and sentence becomes final, a person can petition the original sentencing court for a determination whether he qualifies as a "wrongfully incarcerated person." The petition must contain verifiable and substantial evidence of actual innocence and must state that prior to the wrongful incarceration the person was not a convicted felon, that during the wrongful incarceration the person was not convicted of a felony and that the person was not serving a concurrent sentence for another felony for which the person was not wrongfully convicted.

The petition has to be filed within 90 days of the court's order vacating the conviction and sentence if vacated on or after July 1, 2008. For cases in which the conviction and sentence were vacated before July 1, 2008 the petition must be filed by July 1, 2010.

The prosecutor must be provided notice of the petition and has 30 days to respond by either certifying that no further criminal proceedings will take place in the case and that the petitioner is not disqualified from seeking compensation or by contesting the evidence of actual innocence, the related facts or the petitioner's eligibility.

If the prosecutor contests the petition the court must determine the petitioners eligibility through a process described in the new law.

The maximum compensation is $50,000 for each year of wrongful incarceration up to a $2 million cap. Non-monetary benefits can include tuition and fee waiver at certain state educational facilities.

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