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Capital Punishment and Wrongful Convictions

  1. Rachel L. Carrera

Published Online: 22 JAN 2014

DOI: 10.1002/9781118517383.wbeccj226

The Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice

How to Cite

Carrera, R. L. 2014. Capital Punishment and Wrongful Convictions. The Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice. 1–5.

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 22 JAN 2014


Convicted offenders determined to be innocent, typically through DNA testing, are often described as wrongfully convicted, thus they are exonerated of criminal charges. However, wrongful convictions in which convicted felons are later revealed to be innocent are not the same as cases of “factual innocence” and “legal innocence.” For example, factual innocence is evident when defendants are accomplices to crimes yet do not directly commit crimes. Legal innocence refers to criminal cases where defendants' criminal actions are determined to be legally justified. For example, defendants are often found to be legally innocent in cases where defendants acted in self defense or were intellectually disabled.


  • capital crime;
  • capital punishment;
  • evidence