What You Should Know About Criminal Lineups


When you are brought in as a potential suspect related to an ongoing criminal investigation, you may be asked to be part of a criminal lineup. You should avoid being a part of one when possible due to the potential things that can go wrong. Here is what you should know about being involved in a criminal lineup.

External Factors Can Cause Inaccurate Identification

Anybody that has watched a crime movie or television show is well aware of what a criminal lineup is. Multiple suspects are brought in and told to stand next to each other. A witness will then be asked if anybody in the lineup looks like the suspect in the criminal investigation.

Unfortunately, there are things that the police can do that encourage inaccurate identification from the witness. This includes not using decoy lineup participants that resemble the suspect being identified. For example, if you are short with blonde hair, then there should be other people in the criminal lineup that are also short with blonde hair.

The police should never allow multiple witnesses to view the criminal lineup together. One witness can potentially influence another witness into selecting the same person, especially if they say they are confident they have identified the suspect. Police can also do things that subconsciously identify their prime suspect to a witness. This can include telling the witness that the prime suspect is in the criminal lineup, making them feel forced to select somebody.

Photo Arrays Can Also Cause Inaccurate Identification

As an alternative to a criminal lineup, a photo array may be requested as a way to identify a suspect. Several photos are presented to a witness for them to identify the suspect. This method can also provide inaccurate identification due to several factors.

Studies have shown that showing a witness multiple photos at once can cause inaccurate identification. This is because the brain naturally wants to make comparisons and choices, and witnesses feel pressured to select a suspect. On the flip side, showing a witness photos one after the other can cause somebody to select a suspect early on, and then not want to admit they were wrong and change their mind if a more accurate looking suspect is shown later. 

Seek Legal Help In Criminal Lineup Situations

If you are being requested as part of a criminal lineup, ask to speak with an attorney (such as one from Kassel & Kassel A Group of Independent Law Offices) before doing so. They will be able to fight on your behalf to make sure you are not part of it or help ensure it is done fairly. This means having an impartial party present suspects to witnesses so that no bias is shown.


19 October 2015

take a lawyer to criminal court

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