How police are guarding against inaccurate identifications

| Jul 25, 2018 | Criminal Defense |

Scholarly work has suggested that people in South Carolina and elsewhere can make errors when picking a person out of a lineup. In some cases, an individual will pick up on a cue given by a police officer. Research also suggests that a person has a hard time recognizing someone of a different race. Over time, an individual may be manipulated into feeling more confident in his or her choice, and he or she may actually offer testimony at trial.

The way that a police lineup is put together can also have an effect on who a person identifies as the individual who committed a crime. While researchers were initially rebuffed or ignored by police departments, some cities and states have made changes to how witnesses identify individuals in a lineup. For example, they may be told that the person who committed the crime isn’t necessarily among the choices.

According to one California politician, eyewitness identification is among the least reliable pieces of evidence available. However, it can often play a role in a case. The Innocence Project found that faulty eyewitness identifications led to guilty verdicts in 71 percent of cases that it analyzed. The group studied over 350 convictions that were overturned by DNA evidence that came to light after a trial had concluded.

There may be long-term consequences of being convicted of a crime. For instance, it may not be possible to get a job in certain fields, vote or own a gun. This is in addition to having to register as a sex offender or other conditions imposed by the court. A lawyer may be able to review a case in an effort to help a person obtain a favorable outcome. Favorable outcomes may include a plea deal or being acquitted by a jury.