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Eyewitness Identification In Criminal Cases
Convicted criminals can often be proven to be innocent even after their verdicts. Advancements in forensic technology, such as DNA testing, have given innocence to wrongfully convicted individuals that could be facing life in person or even be on death row. Eyewitness identification in criminal cases is almost always the culprit of these false convictions.
Memory does not act like a video. Emotion, expectations, and level of focus can alter memories. Specific details are often times not remembered accurately enough to be used as solid evidence. The process involving an analysis of the event in order to identify a suspect can corrupt the true nature of the event at different procedural key points. Recalling the event already produces a questionable synopsis of the memory, but the characteristics of the witness can cause a memory to be more vague. Furthermore, the type of lineup and the behaviors of a lineup administrator can cause variations in the choices an eyewitness makes about a suspect. The worse thing is if the real criminal is not even in the lineup of eyewitness identification in criminal cases.
A witness is asked to identify a suspect in a lineup of people. Although this can be effective if the suspect is actually in the lineup, it can be very dangerous if the suspect is not. This is called the relative judgement process. Eyewitnesses tend to pick an individual that looks the most similar to the actual suspect based on the other individuals in the lineup. The memory of the event is vague, and a person in the lineup that best fits the actual suspect will be picked. The problem is that one individual in the lineup will always look the most like the true suspect, therefore causing a suspect to be chosen whether the choice is right or wrong.
The large majority of wrongfully convicted criminals were convicted due to poor eyewitness identification in criminal cases. Unfortunately, major crimes, such as murders, muggings, burglaries, robberies, drive-by shootings, etc., rarely leave any DNA evidence. This makes it especially difficult to prove that somebody is wrongfully convicted. DNA evidence has shed light to the potential invalidity in eyewitness accounts despite the fact that they can be persuasive. Usual safeguards, such as motions to suppress, cross examination, and juror knowledge do not prevent false eyewitness testimonies. Mistaken identification is known to primarily occur when a lineup of potential suspects is present and the real criminal is not present, causing relative judgement to identify the wrong individual. Also, victim witness accounts are not exempt from false eyewitness identification. Many of the wrongly convicted individuals were accused of sexual assault, partially due to an inaccurate victim testimony. This is a crime where you would think the victim would have certain knowledge of the criminal’s description. Fortunately, other evidence is usually present in a case so that a verdict is not solely based off of eyewitness accounts.
If you have any questions about eyewitness identification in criminal cases, contact San Diego criminal defense attorney Vik Monder at 619.405.0063 or visit Best San Diego Criminal Defense