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Proof of an eyewitness error may result in a conviction reversal

| Nov 10, 2020 | Criminal Defense |

Unreliable profiling may lead to a conviction of a crime an individual did not actually commit. A strong defense, however, may counter a prosecutor’s allegations with proof that an eyewitness made a serious mistake. 

When an armed robbery occurs, law enforcement officials may move quickly to make an arrest. Sloppy or rushed investigation practices, however, may lead to cases of mistaken identity. 

Evidence used to convict must be accurate

As reported by the New York Daily News, officials used social media images to ask eyewitness victims to identify an individual alleged to have taken part in an armed home invasion. They also gave the witnesses an opportunity to discuss the photos among themselves. 

The prosecution claimed that several robbers with firearms allegedly invaded an apartment. Because they wore disguises, the eyewitnesses misidentified them. The four witnesses’ error, however, led to a 10-year prison sentence that an appeals court judge later tossed. 

An appeal may show how photographs led to a false conviction

Detectives provided the four eyewitnesses with different images about one month after the investigation identified the charged individual through social media. The individual’s race, however, turned out to be White, and not Hispanic as the witnesses first claimed. 

On appeal, the judge recognized the conviction error resulted from a misidentification on the part of eyewitnesses. Science has shown this may occur in the majority of wrongful convictions. The Association for Psychological Science described how eyewitness testimonies may contain biases or vulnerabilities based on their memories or life experiences. 

A witness’s perception of an event may change from the actual event as time goes on. DNA testing or other relevant facts may, however, absolve an individual of a wrongful conviction. 


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