Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have established a process for compensating individuals who have been wrongly convicted. House Bill 118 would make Delaware the 34th state to do so.
Rep. Sean Lynn introduced the Delaware Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act last week. Under the Act, in order to be eligible for the compensation, a convicted person would be required to file a complaint in Delaware Superior Court establishing that they were convicted of at least one crime in Delaware and served at least part of their sentence in a state correctional facility. The complaint would also need to show the conviction was overturned, either with charges being dismissed or a jury finding the person not guilty in a retrial, and provide proof that new evidence shows the person didn’t commit the crime and wasn’t an accomplice.
Once that complaint is filed, Delaware’s attorney general would have a chance to contest it. If a person was convicted of multiple offenses for the same incident, and not all of those convictions were overturned, they don’t qualify for this wrongful conviction compensation process.
|House Bill 118 Sponsors||Yes Votes||No Votes|
|Lynn, Dorsey Walker, Baumbach|
|Brown, Townsend, Pettyjohn|
|Current Status — House Judiciary 3/17/21|
If you do qualify, after filing a complaint and providing all the required evidence, and the Attorney General either doesn’t contest your complaint or the Superior Court Judge overrules the Attorney General in your favor, then the compensation rate will be as follows: the wrongfully convicted is eligible for $50,000 for every year they were imprisoned. If the wrongfully convicted was imprisoned for less than a year, the $50,000 will be prorated according to the number of days imprisoned.
Reimbursement of attorney fees for the wrongfully convicted would also be made available under the act. The recoverable amount is either up to 10% of the total amount someone received in initial compensation or $50,000, whichever is less.
If passed and signed into law, it would take effect July 1, 2023. People wrongfully convicted before then would have 18 months to file a complaint, and those wrongfully convicted at any time after would have three years after the date their conviction was overturned.