|Criminal trials and convictions
|Rights of the accused
|Related areas of law
A miscarriage of justice occurs when an unfair outcome occurs in a criminal or civil proceeding, such as the conviction and punishment of a person for a crime they did not commit. Miscarriages are also known as wrongful convictions. Innocent people have sometimes ended up in prison for years before their conviction has eventually been overturned. They may be exonerated if new evidence comes to light or it is determined that the police or prosecutor committed some kind of misconduct at the original trial. In some jurisdictions this leads to the payment of compensation.
Academic studies have found that the main factors contributing to miscarriages of justice are: eyewitness misidentification; faulty forensic analysis; false confessions by vulnerable suspects; perjury and lies stated by witnesses; misconduct by police, prosecutors or judges; and/or ineffective assistance of counsel (e.g., inadequate defense strategies by the defendant's or respondent's legal team).
Some prosecutors' offices undertake conviction integrity reviews to prevent, identify, and correct wrongful convictions.
In our collateral review jurisprudence, the term 'miscarriage of justice' means that the defendant is actually innocent.
A grossly unfair outcome in a judicial proceeding, as when a defendant is convicted despite a lack of evidence on an essential element of the crime. — Also termed a failure of justice.