Legislative Update: Restitution for Wrongfully Incarcerated Persons

Legislative Update: Restitution for Wrongfully Incarcerated Persons

On November 1, 2019, a new law will take effect in Indiana that allows for individuals to be compensated for any years they were wrongfully incarcerated. The Indiana law specifically allows for individuals that are “actually innocent” to apply for compensation from a new exoneration fund managed by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute but funded by the General Assembly. The statute defines “actually innocent” as a person that did not commit the offense, did not take part in the offense, and did not plan, prepare, or participate in the planning or preparation of the offense. Simply being acquitted or not being convicted of the offense is not sufficient to show actual innocence.

Compensation for Being Wrongfully Incarcerated

If a person can demonstrate that they are actually innocent, they are to receive $50,000 for every year that they were wrongfully incarcerated from the exoneration fund. Any time spent on pretrial detention, home detention, or work release is not eligible for compensation. Once an individual’s total compensation amount is determined, they should receive payments over the following five years. Individuals have two years from the time of their wrongful incarceration to file an application with the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute. The law will allow for individuals that were wrongfully incarcerated before the law takes effect two years after November 1, 2019, to apply for compensation.

What is the downside of accepting compensation from the exoneration fund?

While the new law has a potentially positive outcome, it comes at a cost. Any person that seeks compensation through the exoneration fund is required to waive “any and all claims” against the State, any sheriff’s office or police department, and any employees, members, officials, or agents of those entities. Additionally, the decision about whether the individual is “actually innocent” is entirely in the hands of the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, meaning a potential claimant will not have their case heard by a jury.

Finally, the new law sets a limit of $50,000 per year, no matter the conditions of the wrongful incarceration or the facts or details that lead to that incarceration. As a result, if a wrongful conviction occurs because of a technical error or because an officer fabricated evidence, the individual gets paid the same amount from the exoneration fund. If taken to court in a civil rights case, the individual would be able to argue their claims against the individuals involved; as well as the local or state governments and seek compensation directly from those involved instead of the exoneration fund. Click here for more information on what to do if your rights were violated.

Contact Our Indianapolis Attorneys Today

If your rights were violated or you would like more information about constitutional claims, please contact the attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP today. We stand ready to provide our clients with trusted representation and accurate information regarding the law and its application to their individualized history. Act now and contact us today at 1-800-NOT-GUILTY or (317) 202-1163.

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