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Are police lineups prone to false identification?

| May 28, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

During a police lineup, several people who fit a suspect’s description appear before a witness hidden from view. The witness must then identify the person who committed the crime. Unfortunately, the process may come with serious flaws as evidenced by decades of wrongful convictions. An improper identification during a police lineup could send an innocent person to life in a Texas prison.

Making changes to the way police conduct lineups

Not every eyewitness gets a solid view of a suspect, resulting in “positive identifications” that might be pure guesses. In some cases, the police may guide a witness to choose a particular suspect. A person who might not be sure whether one specific individual is the suspect may make an identification after the police provide a picture. Famous cases of wrongful conviction have resulted from such actions.

A “double-blind” lineup might reduce the chances for a guided identification. With this approach, the police officers involved with the lineup do not know who the suspect is. Therefore, leading someone to choose a suspect they believe is guilty becomes challenging.

Eyewitness accounts come with concerns

Even when the police do nothing improper, the witness may still pick the wrong person. Eyewitness accounts are subject to faulty memories and other problems. If the witness was too far away from the suspect or saw an incident occur during inclement weather, he or she might identify the wrong person.

Challenging witness testimony could be the center of a criminal defense strategy. Concerns over a witness’s credibility could create the necessary reasonable doubt for an acquittal, and any form of police corruption regarding the witness might lead to a case’s dismissal.

A criminal defense attorney may review evidence and witness statements against a client. If the evidence is weak, an attorney may be able to challenge it in court.