Wrongly Convicted Database Record


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Charles Bernstein (murder conviction)



First Degree Murder



Years Imprisoned:


Year Crime:

Year Convicted:


Year Cleared:


U.S. State or Country of Crime:

District of Columbia

County or Region of Crime:

District of Columbia

City of Crime:

District of Columbia



Summary of Case:

"Charles Bernstein was wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to death in Washington DC in 1933. Six witnesses testified Charles Bernstein was in New York at the time of the murder, and only one of the five eyewitnesses to the murder identified Bernstein. His death sentence stayed four times before President Roosevelt commuted it in May 1935 to life imprisonment minutes before his scheduled execution. President Franklin Roosevelt commuted sentence to time served in June 1940. President Harry Truman granted a pardon in April 1945. The murder conviction was Bernstein's second wrongful conviction for a major felony. Years earlier he been wrongly convicted of a bank robbery in Hopkins, Minnesota when at the time of the crime he was 20 miles away in the lobby of St. Paul hotel. Bernstein served 8 years of his 40 year sentence before his conviction was overturned after a prosecutor became convinced of his innocence. The unexpunged record of that conviction led to him being falsely convicted of the murder. Charles Bernstein spent a total of 17 years wrongly imprisoned for the two crimes he didn't commit. Bernstein was also known as Charles Harris and Charles Blum."

Conviction Caused By:

False eyewitness identification

Innocence Proved By:

Pardoned by President Truman after President Roosevelt commuted sentence to time served.

Defendant Aided By:

Compensation Awarded:


Was Perpetrator Identified?

Age When Imprisoned:

Age When Released:




Information Source 1:

"“Miscarriages of Justice in Potentially Capital Cases,” Hugo Adam Bedau & Michael L. Radelet, Stanford Law Review, November, 1987, Vol. 40, p. 97."

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Innocents Database Created and Maintained by Hans Sherrer innocents@forejustice.org

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