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D.C. Man Gets $2.3M for 10 Years in Prison

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on December 16, 2011 5:47 AM

A jury awarded D.C. man Charles Singletary $2.3 million in damages for the 10 years he spent in prison after his wrongful parole revocation.

Singletary previously spent time in jail on an armed robbery conviction. He was released but later arrested in 1995 for his role in a murder. The murder charges against him were dropped, but the D.C. Board of Parole relied on hearsay evidence and revoked his parole.

He was sent back to prison in 1996. In 2006, roughly ten years after he was sent to prison, an appeals court ruled that there simply wasn't enough evidence to keep him there. He was given another parole board hearing, this time by the U.S. Parole Commission.

The U.S. Parole Commission had taken over the duties handled by the now-defunct D.C. Board of Parole. The commission ruled that there wasn't enough evidence to support Singletary's original parole revocation. He was ordered released that year.

Even so, he had spent around a decade in prison. Singletary sued, and a jury recently awarded him $2.3 million.

In cases where the government violated an individual's civil rights, damages may be awarded like in Singletary's case. However, not all damages may be in the millions. There are many instances where civil rights violations only result in a nominal damages award.

Nominal damages are amounts of money, sometimes only even $1, that are awarded to plaintiffs to signify that a legal wrong occurred but the plaintiff suffered no actual monetary loss.

Charles Singletary likely did suffer economically due to his wrongful parole revocation. Imprisoned, Singletary was unable to work and earn wages.

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