With so much news coverage focused on the election in 2016, some significant stories just didn’t get as much attention as they deserved. One of those stories was the ongoing police corruption scandal in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Seven police officers in Philadelphia were accused of a host of corrupt actions. They included allegedly planting evidence, beating/robbing suspects and doctoring paperwork. Although six of the officers were acquitted in a federal trial (as is too often the case when police are charged with crimes), one of the seven pled guilty and provided testimony against the other officers.
Now, literally hundreds of convictions (in cases worked by these officers) have been reexamined, and many have been thrown out. On a single day in August 2016, one judge reversed 158 drug convictions, which appears to be the largest one-day dismissal in the city’s history. At that time, the total number of reversals was 560, and numbers have gone up since then.
While most police officers are honest and trustworthy, those who aren’t pose major problems for the criminal justice system. When a police officer is credibly accused of corruption, every case the officer has worked on must be called into question (often ending with a vacated conviction).
Then there are the defendants themselves. How many people have been wrongfully convicted and incarcerated due to the alleged actions of these seven officers? How can they get back the time spent behind bars and undo the other collateral damage associated with a conviction?
Although it is not always possible to prevent police corruption, defendants should at least have as much protection as possible against the effects of potentially faulty criminal charges. If you have been arrested or accused of a crime, please contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.