According to the Innocence Project, a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals, eyewitness misidentifications have contributed to the wrongful conviction of 72% of the 289 people exonerated (as of January 2012) through post- conviction DNA testing in the United States. That is an absolutely alarming statistic.
Most criminal prosecutions do not play out like an episode of CSI. While scientific evidence is used in criminal prosecutions, the overwhelming number of cases is prosecuted using eyewitness testimony. For example in an aggravated robbery case often times the only evidence presented is the testimony of the victim. If that evidence is not accurate the strong possibility exists that innocent people can and have been wrongfully convicted and sent to prison.
Fortunately there is a movement to reform eyewitness identification procedures. In Texas, last year the State Legislature enacted legislation codified in Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 38.20 to require all Texas law enforcement agencies to adopt written eyewitness-identification policies based on the best practices proven effective by scientific research on eyewitness memory.
It is imperative that defense attorneys cross examine law enforcement and witnesses on the procedures used in photo arrays and lineups to ensure that the jury is aware if there is a possibility of a misidentification.
If you or someone you know is need of a Houston Criminal Defense Attorney, call Texas Board Certified Attorney Mario Madrid at 713-877-9400.