For centuries, prosecutors have been using eyewitnesses’ identifications in criminal trials. At the same time, eyewitnesses’ identifications are very unreliable and eyewitness misidentification can result in a wrongful conviction. That became even more apparent when attorneys started to use DNA as a tool for exoneration. Now, DNA exoneration cases persuasively show that the convictions of approximately seventy-five percent of innocent persons involved mistaken eyewitnesses’ identifications. Subsequent research has continued to question the reliability of eyewitnesses’ identifications. For example, in 2011, the American Psychological Association observed that controlled experiments and studies showed that the rate of incorrect identifications was approximately thirty-three percent.
However, police continue to rely heavily on eyewitnesses’ identifications. This practice has dramatic consequences for suspects. For example, if an eyewitness misidentifies a person during the investigation of a crime, police often focus all their effort on that person and stop searching for other possible suspects to the crime. This has significant negative effects, leading to trouble for the wrongfully identified suspect, while also leaving the actual perpetrator on the streets.
At trials, jurors also give great weight to eyewitness testimony, and often tend to over-credit eyewitnesses. Not surprisingly, jurors have found innocent people guilty based only on a single witness’s mistaken identification testimony. As a result, a confident eyewitness who incorrectly identified a defendant, but was persuasive in court, can completely change the outcome of the trial.
If you have been identified as a suspect, you should immediately contact us at 515-224-7446 for assistance. You need attorneys who will zealously challenge eyewitness identification testimony. Stowers and Nelsen has extensive experience in this area, and we are ready to defend you!