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Washington man released after criminal charges called into doubt

Being convicted of a crime is a devastating moment. What could only be worse would be to have a conviction based on false criminal charges. One Washington man who has served almost 20 years may know this miscarriage of justice first hand.

In the mid-1990s, an 11 year-old girl came forward with allegations that she was a victim of a sexual assault while she was sleeping. She claimed that the now-55 year-old man was the perpetrator. He was convicted in 1995 on charges of molestation. Under Washington's law concerning persistent offenders, the man was sentenced to serve a life term based on his purported history of two prior convictions on serious charges.

Two years ago, in 2012, the now-adult victim went to authorities and recanted her testimony against the man. According to her new statement, she made the accusation in a bid to solicit attention from her mother. Earlier this month, a judge ordered the man released pending a new trial within the next three months after he presided over a hearing concerning the new evidence.

This man has spent the better part of two decades serving a sentence on an apparently erroneous conviction. Unfortunately, there are times when innocent people are wrongly accused and convicted. In these cases, the efforts of a trusted defense team can prove to be invaluable. The case is not over with the pronouncement of a conviction and sentence. The effort to clear one's name of criminal charges can sometimes take considerable time, but the end result of an overturned conviction is worth the work and effort in the end.

Source: Reuters, "Washington state man convicted of molestation freed after accuser recants", Victoria Cavaliere, Nov. 21, 2014

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