The eyewitness identification of the accused is frequently a critical piece of evidence for law enforcement agencies and prosecutors. Identifications are usually in the form of a photo lineup or an in-person lineup. False eyewitness identifications are one of the leading causes of wrongful convictions in the United States. In many cases, this is due to law enforcement agencies using incorrect and unconstitutional identification methods.
The United States Supreme Court has held that a pretrial identification violates due process when the identification is suggestive and the suggestiveness of the procedure results in a strong probability of misidentification. A procedure may be improperly suggestive if the defendant stands out in the lineup based on his or her size, age, or apparel, an officer makes comments during the identification that taints the process, or the defendant is shown alone to the witness in a “show-up” identification. A show-up identification is when a witness or victim are shown just the defendant with no other individuals to compare him or her to.
Courts will consider five factors in deciding whether the suggestive procedure influenced the identification: (1) the opportunity of the witness to view the perpetrator at the time of the crime; (2) the witness degree of attention; (3) the accuracy of the witness’s prior identification; (4) the level of certainly by the witness at the time of the confrontation; and (5) the length of time between crime and the identification.
The St. Louis criminal defense firm of Henderson & Waterkotte, P.C. frequently attacks the police identification process used by law enforcement agencies as unconstitutional. Our experienced defense team leaves no stone unturned and works tirelessly to achieve the best possible result for our clients. If you are the subject of an investigation or have been charged with a crime call our office today for a free consultation.