Here's a fascinating tidbit from the latest newsletter of the National Exonerations Registry with the same title as the headline of this post:
In most known exonerations, the wrong person was convicted of a crime that did occur. In a rapidly growing minority, however, the defendant was convicted of a crime that never happened – such as the recent exoneration of Jacob Trakhtenberg (profiled below).
No-Crime Exonerations by Type of Crime
No-Crime cases now account for 22% of known exonerations. The largest numbers occur among child sex abuse cases (109), followed by homicides (39), adult sexual assaults (34) and drug cases (28).
But exonerations for homicide and sexual assault are far more common than those for child sex abuse and drug crimes. If we consider No-Crime exonerations as a proportion of all cases, we see a very different picture: They account for three quarters of child sex abuse exonerations, just over half of the drug cases, but only small minorities of exonerations for homicide or sexual assault.
Causes of No-Crime Exonerations
No-Crime exonerations are most common in cases where the occurrence of a crime can be faked by a single person – most often the alleged victim.