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Gerardo Cabanillas Exonerated After 28 Years In Prison

Gerardo Cabanillas Freed From Prison After Being Wrongfully Convicted of Rape and Other Crimes

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA (October 24, 2023) – Gerardo Cabanillas has been exonerated and freed after spending nearly 30 years in jail after falsely confessing to rape and other crimes.

Los Angeles County prosecutors announced the exoneration on Thursday. Gerardo Cabanillas initially confessed to crimes involving a 1995 attack of a couple sitting in a parked car in South Gate.

His case was reexamined by the Conviction Integrity Unit of the DA’s office after new DNA testing. Victims of the attack have said that they were pressured into identifying Gerardo Cabanillas as the assailant.

Alissa Bjerkhoel, interim director of the Innocence Project, said the following after the exoneration. “False confessions are one of the leading causes of wrongful convictions in the United States. Police are permitted to lie to suspects, including promises of leniency if the person confesses. That is exactly what happened here and, if it was not for the DNA evidence, Gerardo would have spent the rest of his life in prison,” she said

Liability For Wrongful Imprisonment In California

Wrongful convictions may seem like a great anomaly. But they are unfortunately quite common. According to, “In Bedau and Radelet’s 1987 study, false confessions were the third leading cause of wrongful conviction; In Warden’s 2003 study they were the single leading cause.” There are many reasons why a person may falsely confess to a crime.

  • Coercion and Duress: Many people may falsely confess to a crime when they are subjected to intense pressure, physical abuse or psychological coercion by police officials.
  • Psychological Vulnerability: Some people may confess to crimes because they are psychologically vulnerable. This may be due to youth, mental illness or cognitive impairment.
  • Misunderstanding the Situation: Some people may believe that confessing to a crime will lead to a more lenient outcome, such as a shorter prison sentence.
  • Manipulative Interrogation Tactics: It is common for law enforcement to use manipulative interrogation tactics. This could include telling suspects that they have evidence that they don’t have. Law enforcement officers may also claim that confessing will lead to a better outcome.

DNA testing is one of the main factors behind inmate exoneration. The field of DNA analysis continues to evolve, which has allowed investigators to look at old evidence in a new light. Any person that is wrongfully convicted of a felony in California may have legal recourse from the California Victim’s Compensation Board under Penal Code §4900. Pursuant to the statute, any person wrongfully convicted may “present a claim against the state to the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board for the pecuniary injury sustained by him or her through the erroneous conviction and imprisonment.” There are several steps that a person should take after any exoneration.

  • All documents related to their prison stay should be collected.
  • All documents related to their exoneration should be collected.
  • An experienced civil rights attorney should be contacted.

Any person that is the victim of a wrongful conviction may be able to seek some measure of aid through a civil claim. The California Victim’s Compensation Board recommends successful claimants get $140 per day for their wrongful imprisonment. But this amount can vary on a case by case basis. A civil rights attorney can examine all of the unique facts of your case free of cost and let you know what your legal options are. It is never a bad idea to pursue justice if you’ve had to endure a wrongful conviction and prison sentence.

Getting Justice After Being Wrongfully Convicted of A Felony

We at Carrillo Law Firm, LLP extend our best wishes to Gerardo Cabanillas as he now enjoys his newfound freedom. There needs to be a thorough review of the policies and practices that led to this wrongful conviction. The police do not serve the public or anyone’s best interest when they coerce suspects into giving false confessions.

Have you or someone that you care about been wrongfully convicted of a felony? You may have legal recourse. Our team of highly experienced Los Angeles County civil rights attorneys are here to help in any way that we can. We are committed to getting victims of wrongful convictions justice. Whether you just have legal questions or need any type of assistance we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at  626-799-9375. Se habla español.



Michael works on high-profile cases that have garnered national media attention. His practice today focuses on child sexual abuse cases, police misconduct cases, catastrophic injuries and other wrongful death matters. He is a passionate advocate for his clients including the countless child sexual abuse victims he currently represents.