Exoneration occurs when a person who has been convicted of a crime is later proved to have been innocent of that crime. Attempts to exonerate convicts are particularly controversial in death penalty cases, especially where new evidence is put forth after the execution has taken place.

The term "exoneration" also is used in criminal law to indicate a surety bail bond has been satisfied, completed, and exonerated. The judge orders the bond exonerated; the clerk of court time stamps the original bail bond power and indicates exonerated as the judicial order.

Based on DNA evidence

DNA evidence is a relatively new instrument of exoneration. The first convicted defendant from a United States prison to be released on account of DNA testing was David Vasquez, in 1989. Recently, DNA evidence has been used to exonerate a number of persons either on death row or serving lengthy prison sentences. As of October 2003, the number of states authorizing convicts to request DNA testing on their behalf, since 1999, has increased from two to thirty. Access to DNA testing varies greatly by degree; post-conviction tests can be difficult to acquire. Organizations like the Innocence Project are particularly concerned with the exoneration of those who have been convicted based on weak evidence. As of October 2003, prosecutors of criminal cases must approve the defendant's request for DNA testing in certain cases. In other contexts, to exonerate can mean simply to free somebody from blame or guilt: to declare officially that somebody is not to blame or is not guilty of wrongdoing.

Monday, April 23, 2007, Jerry Miller became the 200th person in the United States exonerated through the use of DNA evidence.[1] There is a national campaign in support of the formation of state Innocence Commissions, statewide entities that identify causes of wrongful convictions and develop state reforms that can improve the criminal justice system.

See also


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  • exonération — [ ɛgzɔnerasjɔ̃ ] n. f. • 1552 sens 2; lat. exoneratio 1 ♦ (1865) Action d exonérer; son résultat. ⇒ abattement, affranchissement, décharge, déduction, dégrèvement, diminution, dispense, exemption, franchise, immunité, remise. Exonération fiscale …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • exoneration — ex·on·er·a·tion /ig ˌzä nə rā shən, eg / n 1: the act of disburdening or discharging (as from a charge, liability, obligation, duty, or responsibility); also: the state of being so freed 2 a: the right of a person who has paid a debt for which he …   Law dictionary

  • Exoneration — Ex*on er*a tion, n. [L. exoneratio: cf. F. Exon[ e]ration.] The act of disburdening, discharging, or freeing morally from a charge or imputation; also, the state of being disburdened or freed from a charge. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Exoneration — Exoneration, lat. dtsch., Entlastung; exoneriren, entlasten …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • exoneration — 1630s, from L. exonerationem (nom. exoneratio) an unloading, lightening, noun of action from pp. stem of exonerare (see EXONERATE (Cf. exonerate)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • Exonération — Une exonération est une dispense de paiement d impôt, de taxe ou de droit sous certaines conditions définies dans le cadre de la loi ; ainsi la faiblesse des revenus des personnes est un motif d exonération de certaines taxes touchant… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • EXONÉRATION — n. f. T. d’Administration Action d’exonérer. Exonération du service militaire. Exonération d’impôts. Exonération des frais d’étude …   Dictionnaire de l'Academie Francaise, 8eme edition (1935)

  • Exoneration — In a general sense, this term means to free from blame or guilt, such as when a criminal is proven innocent. In the financial realm, exoneration usually means to relieve one of a financial obligation or duty. This can apply in many different… …   Investment dictionary

  • exonération — (è gzo né ra sion) s. f. Terme de pratique. Décharge, soulagement. Exonération du service militaire. Exonération d impôts.    Autrefois, remplacement militaire fait par l État même au moyen d une somme fixée chaque année. ÉTYMOLOGIE    Lat.… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • exoneration — exonerate UK US /ɪgˈzɒnəreɪt/ verb [T] FORMAL LAW ► to show or say officially that someone or something is not guilty of something: »We have proof which will completely exonerate him. exonerate sb from sth »I do not wholly exonerate her from… …   Financial and business terms

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