Can an innocent person really be set up or “framed” and sent to prison – for years – for a crime that he or she did not commit? Criminal defense attorneys say “yes.”
In fact, in 2016, one spectacular story about a man who is possibly being framed for murder in Wisconsin is setting the issue once again squarely in the public eye. That story is the ten-part true crime documentary from Netflix titled Making a Murderer.
The series was released by Netflix in December 2015, and even three months later, some people are now watching the highly-controversial documentary for the first time.
Making a Murderer is the provocative true story of Steven Avery, a Wisconsin man who was released from prison in 2003 after serving almost two decades for a crime that evidence now proves he did not commit. That injustice is only the beginning of Avery’s story.
After filing a multi-million-dollar legal action against the Wisconsin officials responsible for that eighteen-year miscarriage of justice, Steven Avery was arrested again in 2005 – this time for a young woman’s murder – and he was convicted for that murder in 2007.
Avery says that he was framed by Wisconsin police to have his lawsuit against them thrown out of court, and the Netflix documentary offers some powerful evidence in support of that claim.
ARE FRAME-UPS FREQUENT?
You’ve probably seen any number of “frame-up” plots in television crime dramas and in the movies, but the sad truth is that innocent people are frequently framed or “set up” for crimes in real life too. Innocent average citizens are framed, most often for violent crimes or for drug crimes that they did not commit.
Yes, you could be “set up” to “take the fall” for a crime, and it happens far more often than many of us might think.
In most cases, the cops responsible for investigating crimes try to use common sense and follow the evidence where it takes them. Police investigators, of course, sometimes make mistakes like anyone else, but when some shadowy figure behind the scenes secretly manipulates evidence, the police are even more apt to accuse an innocent person of committing a crime.
Sometimes, of course, it’s the cops themselves who are framing the suspect, as Steven Avery alleges in his own case. If you find yourself under arrest and accused of a crime, and if you believe that you are being framed for the crime, it’s imperative to discuss your case and your options immediately with an experienced, trustworthy criminal defense lawyer.
If you believe that someone is framing you for a crime, do not confront that person under any circumstances. Instead, take your case to an experienced defense lawyer, and in the state of Washington, to an experienced Seattle criminal defense attorney.
One man in Texas wasn’t only framed for a murder – he was actually sentenced to die for a crime that he did not commit. A man named Randall Adams was convicted in 1977 for the murder of a Dallas police officer, Robert W. Wood.
Adams served a dozen years behind bars and came within three days of the death sentence in 1979 when a stay of execution was ordered by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr. A man named David Harris eventually confessed to Officer Wood’s murder in 1988, and Randall Adams was given back his freedom in 1989.
In another infamous frame-up, many people in southern Californians will remember the tragic case of Brian Banks. The high school football star from Long Beach was falsely accused of rape in 2002 by a young female acquaintance named Wanetta Gibson.
Banks was threatened with forty years in prison, so he offered a false confession and served a five-year prison term that likely destroyed his chances to play in the NFL. After Banks was released, he was soon contacted by Ms. Gibson, who confessed to Banks that she had made up the rape accusation.
However, during her own confession, Banks was recording her. His conviction was eventually overturned, and Brian Banks now works for the NFL Department of Operations and volunteers with an advocacy group called the Innocence Project.
HOW MANY ARE INNOCENT?
In 1992, the Innocence Project was founded to vindicate those wrongly convicted of crimes and to help prevent wrongful convictions in the future. The group believes that two to five percent of the offenders now in custody in the United States are innocent – possibly as many as 100,000 people.
With statistics like that, everyone needs to know what to do if you are framed for a crime. If you are arrested or even just being investigated for a crime, you must consult with an experienced defense attorney immediately.
During the course of an investigation, your lawyer may be able to intercede on your behalf before charges are filed. In many cases, if you are being framed and you immediately retain a defense attorney, the frame can be uncovered early.
If you are taken into custody and booked for a crime that you did not commit, you have the right to remain silent and to have your attorney present during any interrogation.
Be polite to investigators, but insist on exercising your constitutional rights. Never voluntarily consent to a search of your person, your home, your vehicles, or your place of work. Ensure that officers have a warrant before they conduct a search, even if you do not have anything to hide.
While Making a Murderer leads viewers to believe that Steven Avery was framed by Wisconsin police for the murder of Teresa Halbach, one investigator alleges that Avery was also framed – from the beginning – by another murderer.
That investigator is former Montana police detective John Cameron. Cameron has been featured on Dateline NBC and America’s Most Wanted, and he’s worked on FBI serial killer task forces. Cameron is now claiming that Teresa Halbach was murdered and that Steven Avery was set up by a serial killer named Edward Wayne Edwards.
Cameron further claims that Edwards killed scores of victims and framed scores of suspects for murders for over six decades.
Cameron offers this vaguely-plausible theory in his book It’s Me, Edward Wayne Edwards: The Serial Killer You Never Heard Of. He asserts that Edwards committed dozens of well-known murders. According to Cameron, Edward Wayne Edwards was the Atlanta child killer and California’s Zodiac killer; Edwards also purportedly murdered Chandra Levy, Jon-Benet Ramsey, Jimmy Hoffa, and Teresa Halbach while framing the supposedly innocent – suspects such as Steven Avery and Atlanta’s Wayne Williams.
Cameron seems willing to accuse Edwards – who passed way in an Ohio prison in 2011 – of virtually every famous unsolved murder in the United States since the 1950s.
COULD EDWARDS BE GUILTY?
There’s abundant proof that Edward Wayne Edwards committed five murders in Ohio and in Wisconsin over a period of about twenty years. Cameron’s theory about Edwards is highly speculative – and clearly designed to sell books to true crime buffs and conspiracy theorists – but the real problem with Cameron’s theory about Edward Wayne Edwards is that it is actually remotely possible.
Cameron offers no proof that Edwards committed any of those more famous murders – or framed suspects for those murders – but he does prove that Edwards could have murdered the victims and framed the innocent suspects.
If Cameron’s theory is right about even one case regarding Edward Wayne Edwards, it means that framing someone for murder is probably far more common – and far easier – than we would care to admit.
If you are arrested for a crime and your defense is that the police officers framed you by planting evidence, you must offer convincing proof. Judges and juries generally assume that law enforcement officers conduct themselves professionally and straightforwardly.
The frank truth is that claiming that you were framed is more likely to succeed as a defense if you have no prior criminal convictions. Suspects with a criminal record will typically have a tougher time convincing a jury that they were framed by the police.
COULD YOU BE FRAMED FOR A CRIME?
Of course, when and if you are prosecuted for any crime, you cannot be convicted until and unless the state can prove your guilt to a jury of your peers.
A good criminal defense lawyer working on your behalf will examine every aspect of the case against you to find a flaw, weakness, or mistake in the case. If your rights were violated before, during, or after your arrest, or if you believe that you are being framed, tell your lawyer the details.
Most set-ups collapse under heightened scrutiny, and purported criminal geniuses like Edward Wayne Edwards are honestly more likely to be found in conspiracy theories and films than anywhere in real life.
If you are arrested and charged with any felony or misdemeanor, you must retain experienced legal representation immediately. Do not act as your own attorney – that’s far too dangerous – and do not confess or agree to anything before you consult with a trustworthy criminal defense attorney.
After any arrest, contact a good criminal defense lawyer at once, and in the state of Washington, get the legal representation you need by contacting an experienced Seattle criminal defense attorney.