The dangers of witness identification

If you have been accused by Galveston law enforcement officials of having committed a felony, there is a strong possibility that you have been identified by a witness as being the perpetrator, whether it is through a police lineup, a composite sketch, or some other method. The problem is that witness identifications have repeatedly been proven to be unreliable in many ways.

Why witnesses are not always reliable

There are a variety of reasons why people who have witnessed a crime being committed might identify the wrong suspect. If they are at the police station and being interviewed by authorities, they might feel pressure to provide a response that they believe officers might want to hear. They could also be nervous and want to get the questioning over with as quickly as possible. The arresting officers may also want to expedite the process, and as a result, they will sometimes provide leading clues about the identity of the suspect.

What studies have shown

In 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit commissioned a study on the subject. The researchers ultimately found that the majority of people who had been convicted on eyewitness identifications were subsequently exonerated on the basis of DNA evidence. Some years prior to the study, the Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in a dissenting opinion that eyewitness misidentifications were the largest cause of wrongful convictions. Police sketches have their problems as well, as they are often composites of a witness’s description of a suspect’s features that bear little resemblance to the suspect’s actual appearance.

How an attorney can help

If you have been wrongfully charged with having committed a serious felony solely on the basis of witness testimony, it would be advisable to meet with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Legal counsel can work with you to build a strategy to combat the erroneous allegations.