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A look at the eyewitness misidentification phenomenon

People who are charged with a crime may be victimized by flawed eyewitness lineup procedures.

While hundreds of thousands of people sit behind bars in correctional facilities in Idaho and across the country, not all of them are guilty of committing a crime. A surprising number of innocent people are convicted of crimes, bringing some to question the accuracy of the American judicial process. According to the Innocence Project, 353 people across the country have been exonerated of crimes after further investigation of DNA evidence proved their innocence. Approximately 70 percent of those cases involved eyewitness misidentification, which occurs when people are erroneously chosen from a physical or photo lineup.

Flaws in the lineup procedure

Research shows that flawed procedures used during eyewitness lineups can lead a witness to select the wrong person. For example, lineup administrators who make comments regarding the suspect or crime, may prompt witnesses to alter their choice. Furthermore, poorly organized lineups can be misleading. If the perpetrator was said to have a beard and dark eyes, there should be more than one person in the lineup with a beard and dark eyes. When only one person with these characteristics is placed in the lineup, he or she is more likely to be selected, regardless of whether they committed the crime.

The human memory

A person's ability to remember certain characteristics about a suspect may also be altered or difficult to recall. Existing factors at the scene of the crime may be to blame. The amount of lighting that was present, whether it was raining or sunny and how many people were present at the time can affect a person's memory. People also have difficulties identifying suspects that are a different race than their own. Other factors that can affect the validity of an eyewitness identification include the following:

· Whether a gun was used during the crime.

· The distance the eyewitnesses was from the actual crime.

· If the perpetrator wearing a disguise or mask.

The human mind does not act as a perfect recorder of the event that took place. Rather, the information is sent through certain biases and filters before it is replayed.

Justice is served

If you or someone you know has been charged with committing a crime, you may feel overwhelmed at the prospects of being convicted and penalized. Criminal charges can scar your reputation and make it hard for you to live your life. You may want to contact a criminal defense attorney regarding your rights. A lawyer in Idaho will listen to the facts of the case, answer your questions and help create a case based on your best interests.

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