Law Offices of Thomas C. Mooney - Criminal Defense
Call Today for a FREE Consultation 301-579-3429

Incorrect witness identifications linked to false convictions

People in Maryland may think of eyewitness identifications as particularly strong evidence that a person committed a crime. However, research has shown that witness identifications may be particularly prone to human error; they are a major factor in wrongful convictions that have been overturned through new DNA evidence. The quality of an eyewitness identification may vary greatly depending on the police procedures used to obtain it. For example, police may praise witnesses for selecting a suspect or pressure them to identify someone from a photo or in-person lineup.

Individual memory is deeply flawed, and people in traumatic or violent situations may not remember everything about a person's face or identifying characteristics. Poor police procedure may lead to some tentative or uncertain identifications firming up over time as witnesses become more convinced that they selected the correct face from a group of photos. As a result, people who were initially uncertain that they were correct may later testify with conviction about a criminal suspect's identity. In cases where wrongfully convicted people were later exonerated through DNA evidence, 70% involved mistaken eyewitness identifications. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor said that these kinds of misidentifications are the single greatest contributor to wrongful convictions.

Researchers have noted that people in a room with police or other authority figures often inherently attempt to find the "right answer" and please those authorities, even while they want to identify the suspect correctly. They may feel confident that police have good reasons to suspect a specific person, or they may confuse one person with another that they have seen before.

People facing criminal charges may run up against a number of serious obstacles, including mistaken identification or police civil rights violations. A criminal defense attorney may help defendants to present a strong response and work to prevent a conviction.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

How Can We Help You?

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information
disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

close

Privacy Policy

Maryland Association For Justice The National Trial Lawyers | Top 100 Trial Lawyers National Association of Distinguished Counsel | Nation's Top One Percent Top Lawyers This is to certify that Thomas C. Mooney has been chosen as a top lawyer in Washingtonian Magazine in 2015
Super Lawyers

Contact Us

14750 Main Street, Suite C
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772

Phone: 301-579-3429
Fax: 240-363-0051
Upper Marlboro Law Office Map