“When an innocent person is convicted, everyone loses. The guilty person is still free to commit more crimes, an innocent life is unjustly destroyed, and the legal process is a waste of precious resources. There is no remedy for a wrongful prosecution.” -- Former Fed. Prosecutor, Sidney Powell
Prosecutorial misconduct includes any conduct by a prosecutor that violates a defendant’s rights, regardless of whether that the prosecutor knew or should have known the conduct was improper, or whether the prosecutor intentionally violated those rights.
Although intentional and unintentional misconduct clearly differ and suggest the need for distinct kinds of oversight mechanisms, both result in serious, life-altering injustice and need to be addressed. A prosecutor’s failure to turn over evidence that might exonerate the defendant can have a devastating effect regardless of whether the prosecutor intentionally or accidentally withheld the evidence.
Prosecutorial error and misconduct can occur at any stage of a criminal proceeding, although the behaviors generally recognized are those that occur during trial. This encompasses a wide range of behaviors, but the following are the most common:
- Improper arguments or examination at trial
- Inflammatory comments in the presence of the jury
- Mischaracterizing evidence
- Allowing false testimony to stand uncorrected
- Failure to disclose evidence favorable to the accused