Mistaken Eyewitness Identification is Common - Ways to Prevent It

Mistaken Eyewitness Identification

Did you know that over 75% of cases overturned through DNA testing involved eyewitness error? Mistaken eyewitness identifications are a leading cause of wrongful convictions in the United States Court System. Ronald Chapman can help ensure there are no wrong convictions because of misidentification. He defends the accused.

What is Mistaken Eyewitness Identification?

When an eyewitness or victim mistakenly identifies someone as the criminal. It is a common problem that can result from ‘suggestive’ police tactics, voice lineups, in-court identifications, photo arrays, and from being misidentified in a police lineup. ‘When someone is wrongly accused of a crime, two people are trapped on the dark side of justice, while the real perpetrator remains free’, stated by identity expert, Elizabeth Loftus. It is in everyone’s best interest to avoid mistaken identification.

Variables Affecting Mistaken Eyewitness Identification:

  • Lighting conditions,
  • Pre-existing familiarity,
  • Identifying a person of another race,
  • Weapon-focus is when the victim focuses more on the weapon used than the criminal’s face.
  • Stress,
  • Coherency and sobriety level of the victim,
  • Distance from the perpetrator,
  • Was the perpetrator wearing a mask?,
  • Did the victim see the full face?,
  • The amount of time passed since identifying the perpetrator.

Ways to Avoid Mistaken Eyewitness identification

Sixth Amendment Right - Defendants have the right to have their criminal defense attorney present at pretrial lineups. A criminal defense attorney can explain the process and spot troublesome variables that may lead to mistaken eyewitness identification.

Evans Lineup - The defense asks the judge to order a new lineup promptly because there is a reasonable likelihood that mistaken identification may occur. Your defense attorney can let you know if this lineup is a good idea.

  1. The eyewitness is required to describe the suspect before having the lineup, and the lineup should happen as quickly as possible after the incident.
  2. The officer doing the lineup should not know who the suspect is in the lineup (a.k.a. "double-blind lineups").
  3. Only one suspect may be included in any one lineup.
  4. All eyewitnesses must be separated during a lineup.
  5. The officer may not say anything to an eyewitness that could influence his/her identification of the suspect.
  6. A lineup must have fillers who match the eyewitness' description of the suspect.
  7. In photo lineups, the officer should hide from the eyewitness any writings or information concerning any prior arrest of the suspect.
  8. If possible, the officer should make an electronic recording that includes audio and visual representations of the line-ups.
  9. The officer shall give the eyewitness the following instructions before the lineup:
    1. The suspect might or might not be among the people in the lineup;
    2. The eyewitness should not feel pressured to make an identification; and
    3. An identification or failure to make an identification will not stop the investigation.
  10. If the eyewitness identifies a person he/she believes to be the suspect, all of the following shall apply:
    1. The investigator will immediately ask about the eyewitness' confidence level in the accuracy of the identification and record in writing, word for word, what the eyewitness says;
    2. Information concerning the identified person will not be given to the eyewitness before obtaining the eyewitness' statement of confidence level and documenting the precise words of the eyewitness;
    3. The officer will not validate or invalidate the eyewitness' identification.

Ronald Chapman

If you or a loved one requires legal defense with a mistaken identification case and you are looking to hire an attorney for representation, contact Ronald Chapman. Ronald Chapman is a seasoned criminal defense attorney who can conduct vigorous cross-examination and make a big difference in a case involving mistaken eyewitness identification.

Criminal Defense Attorney West Palm Beach

Ronald Chapman practices criminal defense in both State and Federal Courts within the State of Florida. Since 1990, Mr. Chapman has been representing people accused of committing various types of crimes. If you are facing criminal charges in Florida, Ronald Chapman can help.

Schedule your FREE Consultation! Call (561) 832-4348 or visit his website. Visit us at https://www.justiceflorida.com/ You can also connect with the West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Office online today! Ronald Chapman, an experienced criminal defense lawyer, dedicated to defending your rights. Contact him today to begin to discuss your case.


Ronald S. Chapman, P.A.
400 Clematis Street, Suite 206
West Palm Beach, FL 33401


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400 Clematis St. Suite 206, West Palm Beach, FL 33401
Desde 1990, el Sr. Chapman ha representado a personas que han sido acusadas de cometer delitos de varios tipos, tales como DUI, violencia doméstica, posesión de armas, posesión de drogas, eliminación de antecedentes penales, infracciones de tránsito, asesinato, homicidio involuntario, abuso infantil, delitos sexuales, abuso de personas mayores, apelaciones y violaciones de libertad condicional.
Abogado de Defensa Criminal en West Palm Beach, FL

© Propiedad Intelectual 2024. Abogado Penalista en Florida. Todos los Derechos Reservados.

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