Last time, we looked at how significant it is for a jury when someone identifies a criminal defendant as the perpetrator of a crime during trial. But how reliable is that eyewitness identification?

Innocence Projects and universities across the country have conducted studies to illustrate how unreliable eyewitness identifications can be. Many studies show mistaken identity is a major cause of the wrongful conviction of innocent people. Scientific research also supports this. For over 10 years, the use of PCR DNA procedures has become accepted in all United States courts.

According to the Northern California Innocence Project, for example, “Eyewitness misidentification is the single greatest cause of wrongful convictions nationwide, playing a role in nearly 75% of convictions overturned through DNA testing.” In fact, psychologists such as Dr. Gary Wells, PhD, say that mistaken eyewitness identification has proved to be THE largest single factor contributing to the conviction of innocent people.

Scientists and psychologists have warned against the dangers of allowing a criminal conviction based upon eyewitness identifications alone, unsupported by any other evidence. In November 2007, California even placed initiatives on the state election ballot to try to reform eyewitness identification procedures in jury trials. However, this ballot proposal was defeated.

If you or someone you know is accused of a crime, arrested, or contacted by police, contact San Jose criminal defense attorney Maureen Baldwin at (408) 279-4450 to learn your options today!