When law enforcement officers investigate a crime, they rely on many resources to identify possible defendants. Forensic evidence (DNA material, fiber identification, etc.) is currently the most effective manner of identification, even though such technology is not yet 100% accurate. Another way law enforcement tries to pin down the allegedly guilty party involves eyewitness identification, often through a police lineup.
If you watch crime dramas, you are likely familiar with these lineups. Eyewitnesses examine a group of individuals or photos of individuals and try to pick out the person they believe they saw committing a crime. It looks effective on your television or when you go to the theater, but this method has its flaws.
Some criminal defense attorneys do not believe that a police lineup is an effective means of identification. Many also believe that it could hurt your case if you are under investigation. Data centered on wrongful convictions have shown that 75 percent of these convictions involved misidentification on the part of eyewitnesses.
Further, if law enforcement uses unreliable techniques during photo lineups or lineups involving people, it may implicate innocent Colorado residents. Examples of unreliable techniques include:
- Showing witnesses only one photo or person at a time rather than providing side-by-side comparisons
- Including only one person in the lineup that matches witness descriptions
- Failing to practice objectivity, especially if one or more officers knows the possible defendant
What should you do if detectives or police officers plan to conduct a lineup to identify you as a suspect? Seek legal guidance from an experienced criminal defense lawyer. This can help ensure that the lineup proceeds fairly and objectively while also ensuring that your rights always remain protected.