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Exploring the causes of eyewitness misidentification in Colorado

Eyewitness misidentification is the number one cause of wrongful conviction in the United States.

While many people believe that the American judicial system convicts guilty criminals and frees the innocent, they may be surprised to hear the number of innocent people who have been wrongfully convicted of crimes and sentenced to spend their lives behind bars. According to the Innocence Project, 321 people have been exonerated from prison due to DNA evidence testing. Eyewitness misidentification was involved in 72 percent of those cases. Since this widely used practice is the number one leading cause of wrongful conviction, many Colorado residents and people across the country are wondering how to avoid sending more innocent people to jail.

The accuracy of eyewitness testimony

According to a study published by PBS News, the human memory is flawed, and because of these flaws people can be wrongfully identified and convicted of a crime they did not commit. When it comes to accurately recounting an event or identifying a person acute precision to detail, peoples’ memories can become altered. This may lead them to unintentionally point out the wrong person as the perpetrator.

Factors that affect eyewitness identification

The American Bar Association explains how certain factors can increase the likelihood of eyewitness misidentification. These include:

•· Presence of a weapon: Studies show that the presence of a deadly weapon can reduce the accuracy of a witness’s identification by approximately 10 percent. It is thought that a weapon can divert the witness’s attention away from the perpetrator, and ultimately lead to a poor memory of the criminal’s physical characteristics.

•· Stress: High levels of stress can psychologically alter peoples’ ability to remember events and recall them at a later time.

•· Passage of time: During the passage of time from when the event occurred to when the witness is asked to make a positive identification, there is a consistent decay of human memory.

•· Environmental details: Factors, such as the amount of light present when the event occurred, how far away the suspect was standing from the witness and whether or not the suspect was wearing a mask at the time the event occurred can all influence the witness’s ability to identify a suspect.

The way a lineup is organized or administered can also have an effect on witnesses’ ability to accurately choose suspects. Many law enforcement organizations have develop a strict protocol to follow when conducting eyewitness lineups in order to prevent a misidentification from occurring.

Contact an attorney

If you feel like you have been wrongfully accused of a violent crime and need aggressive legal defense, you may want to consider contacting a criminal defense attorney. A defense attorney, who has a thorough understanding of Colorado law, can help you explore your legal options and rights.

Keywords: eyewitness, testimony, conviction