Mistakes in eyewitness identifications are to blame for many false charges and even wrongful convictions. When facing criminal charges you didn’t commit, hearing someone say they saw you do it can be mind-blowing. Eyewitness testimony can really make a huge impact on juries and judges. Even though mistakes are common, they still weight heavily on minds when determining guilt or innocence.
A small move in the right direction, Dallas police will be changing the method of eyewitness photo lineup identification processes. While the department recently dropped out of a study on photo lineups due to time constraints, the department is taking change into their own hands in an effort to improve the system.
In the past when identifying a suspect, eyewitnesses were shown a group of 6 photos all at one time. Now, however, someone from the department will show the eyewitness a group of photos one at a time. This method is believed to decrease the incidences of mistaken identity during photo lineups.
Dallas is certainly not the first department in Texas to change this practice, but just the latest. With a department that is so large covering a big city with a somewhat high crime rate, the Dallas Department is better late than never.
According to the Innocence Project, mistaken identity plays a part in 75% of cases overturned by DNA evidence. If mistaken eyewitness identification plays a role in all of those cases that are discovered, imagine how many people are wrongfully charged and even convicted that don’t later get exonerated. It baffles the mind to think that a percentage of the people in the courts and prison systems are there because someone pointed the finger at the wrong guy. Consequently, imagine how many people are out wandering the streets who should be in jail or charged with the offenses someone else was blamed for.
Decreasing the occurrence of mistaken identity in photo lineups is vital in keeping the criminal justice system just and fair. Any moves to make the process more foolproof are moves in the right direction.
Being accused of a crime you didn’t commit must be gut-wrenching. To try and clear your name when someone insists they saw you commit an illegal act can be very difficult. Only an aggressive and highly experienced attorneys can help people caught in these situations.