How Important is Eye Witness Testimony in Your Los Angeles, CA Case?

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The presence of an eye witness makes an enormous difference to the outcome in a criminal case. If the prosecution has an eye witness then your chances of being convicted goes up by 54%, even if you are innocent. 

That does not mean that the presence of an eye witness is a “slam dunk” for the prosecution. There are a lot of problems with eye witness testimony. 

What Makes Eye Witness Testimony Unreliable? 

Numerous studies have shown that memory is unreliable. Eyewitness testimony can be impacted by:

  • Stress, fear, and anxiety.
  • The presence of a dangerous weapon.
  • A mismatch between the race of the witness and the race of the perpetrator.
  • Influence by law enforcement officers, i.e. by asking leading or suggestive questions.
  • The presence of multiple culprits.
  • The identifier works with many people, every day.
  • The suspect looks a lot like someone the eyewitness knows.
  • The witness believes they saw something whether they could have seen it or not.
  • The length of time that has passed between the identification and the crime.  
  • Whether the testimony has in any way been incentivized by the prosecution. 

Most witnesses genuinely want to help. That very desire to help can work against the accuracy of eye witness testimony. 

How Does California Handle Eye Witness Testimony?

California law is aware that there are problems with eye witness testimony. Under the law:

  • Juries must consider whether the witness was led through the identification process, known as “suggestive testimony.”
  • The jury must consider whether the witness had any real opportunity to witness the crime. 
  • Defendants have the right to demand that their criminal lawyer be present during any lineups. 
  • You have the right to testimony by an eyewitness identification expert who can help the jury see serious problems with any eyewitness testimony that is given, if the eye witness identification of the defendant is a key element of the prosecution’s case and is not corroborated by other, physical evidence. 

In addition, California has laws that dictate how a police line-up must be conducted.

  • It must be double-blind. The police officer is not allowed to know who the suspect is.
  • The police may not tell witnesses they chose the right suspect.
  • Witnesses must be told the suspect may not even be present in the lineup. 
  • Multiple witnesses must be kept separate from one another. 
  • The eye witness must describe the suspect before they see the lineup and the people in the lineup must resemble the description. 
  • The eye witness must be told the investigation will continue regardless of whether they pick a suspect in the line up. 
  • There may be only one suspect per line up.
  • Officers may  not make suggestive statements about suspects.
  • The eye witness must state how confident they are in their identification. 
  • The lineup must be recorded. 
  • Defendants may at times call an “Evans Lineup” if the charge depends on an eyewitness identification and the defense lawyer shows a reasonable likelihood of mistaken identification. That means the defendant gets their own lineup. 

We Will Work to Undermine The Prosecutor’s Eye Witnesses  

As your Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys, we will work hard to reduce any damage that eye witnesses may do to your case. You can count on us to investigate every avenue.

If you’re in trouble, contact us today. We’re ready to help.

See also:

What to Do If You Get Arrested in Los Angeles, CA

Wrongful Convictions in Los Angeles, CA 

How to Exercise Your 5th Amendment Rights After a Los Angeles Arrest

 

How Important is Eye Witness Testimony in Your Los Angeles, CA Case?

inne-rpage-seperator

The presence of an eye witness makes an enormous difference to the outcome in a criminal case. If the prosecution has an eye witness then your chances of being convicted goes up by 54%, even if you are innocent. 

That does not mean that the presence of an eye witness is a “slam dunk” for the prosecution. There are a lot of problems with eye witness testimony. 

What Makes Eye Witness Testimony Unreliable? 

Numerous studies have shown that memory is unreliable. Eyewitness testimony can be impacted by:

  • Stress, fear, and anxiety.
  • The presence of a dangerous weapon.
  • A mismatch between the race of the witness and the race of the perpetrator.
  • Influence by law enforcement officers, i.e. by asking leading or suggestive questions.
  • The presence of multiple culprits.
  • The identifier works with many people, every day.
  • The suspect looks a lot like someone the eyewitness knows.
  • The witness believes they saw something whether they could have seen it or not.
  • The length of time that has passed between the identification and the crime.  
  • Whether the testimony has in any way been incentivized by the prosecution. 

Most witnesses genuinely want to help. That very desire to help can work against the accuracy of eye witness testimony. 

How Does California Handle Eye Witness Testimony?

California law is aware that there are problems with eye witness testimony. Under the law:

  • Juries must consider whether the witness was led through the identification process, known as “suggestive testimony.”
  • The jury must consider whether the witness had any real opportunity to witness the crime. 
  • Defendants have the right to demand that their criminal lawyer be present during any lineups. 
  • You have the right to testimony by an eyewitness identification expert who can help the jury see serious problems with any eyewitness testimony that is given, if the eye witness identification of the defendant is a key element of the prosecution’s case and is not corroborated by other, physical evidence. 

In addition, California has laws that dictate how a police line-up must be conducted.

  • It must be double-blind. The police officer is not allowed to know who the suspect is.
  • The police may not tell witnesses they chose the right suspect.
  • Witnesses must be told the suspect may not even be present in the lineup. 
  • Multiple witnesses must be kept separate from one another. 
  • The eye witness must describe the suspect before they see the lineup and the people in the lineup must resemble the description. 
  • The eye witness must be told the investigation will continue regardless of whether they pick a suspect in the line up. 
  • There may be only one suspect per line up.
  • Officers may  not make suggestive statements about suspects.
  • The eye witness must state how confident they are in their identification. 
  • The lineup must be recorded. 
  • Defendants may at times call an “Evans Lineup” if the charge depends on an eyewitness identification and the defense lawyer shows a reasonable likelihood of mistaken identification. That means the defendant gets their own lineup. 

We Will Work to Undermine The Prosecutor’s Eye Witnesses  

As your Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys, we will work hard to reduce any damage that eye witnesses may do to your case. You can count on us to investigate every avenue.

If you’re in trouble, contact us today. We’re ready to help.

See also:

What to Do If You Get Arrested in Los Angeles, CA

Wrongful Convictions in Los Angeles, CA 

How to Exercise Your 5th Amendment Rights After a Los Angeles Arrest

 

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