Bias in police lineups with false identification

On Behalf of | Jun 29, 2021 | Criminal Law |

Residents of McKinney and other nearby areas of Texas may want to learn about recent changes in the police lineup procedure. Many false identifications happen, resulting in jail time for the wrongly convicted. The Innocence Project mentions that more steps are now in place to prevent eyewitnesses from being swayed by police or other influences.

According to PEW “double-blind” lineups help reduce bias. In this process, the officer conducting the lineup doesn’t know who the suspect is.

Eyewitnesses have been unreliable

Until the advent of DNA identification, police mainly relied on eyewitnesses for the identification process. Guesswork, as well as bias, played a significant role in identifying suspects.

There is evidence that traditional police practices and cues often induced witnesses to identify the wrong suspect. However, new policies are in place for police in half of U.S. states to reduce false identification. Many police departments, including those in Minneapolis and San Diego, are adopting new eyewitness procedures without waiting for legislation. Some of the new policies include:

  • Double-blind lineups, whether live or by photos
  • Instruction to witnesses that the perpetrator might not be in the lineup
  • Fillers with one suspect and at least five others, including one bearing resemblance to the suspect

Problems identifying another race

According to research, eyewitnesses are not reliable when it comes to identifying a person of a different race. The Innocence Project maintains that the purpose of a lineup is not just to pick out a person; it is to choose the right person. A criminal defense attorney representing a falsely accused person might point out issues in the following:

  • The way the police conducted the lineup
  • The instructions given to a witness
  • The behavior of officers in front of a witness

If you have been accused of a crime, it’s important to protect your rights. It may be helpful to consult an attorney with knowledge and experience in defending against criminal charges.