When Texas residents witness a crime, they may be asked to view a lineup or an array of photos in order to identify the individual who committed the crime. Although the guilty individual may be in the photos or lineup, it is possible that the police have the wrong person in the lineup. Since police cases often depend on if a witness picks the suspect, it is important to realize that witnesses often make errors as well.
Eyewitness memory researchers have been working to see if it is possible to determine the accuracy of an eyewitness’s decision as to who committed the crime. They have used a variety of indicators of accuracy, including eye movement patterns when looking at the lineup, the words they use as they go through the process of making a decision, and how quickly their decision is made.
The indicator that is most easily measured and that attracts the most attention is the confidence of the eyewitness. It is common for judges, lawyers, jurors and police officers to use the eyewitness’s confidence as a reliable indicator. However, those who research eyewitness memory have different views and feel that more caution should be exercised. They feel that more research is needed since studies that have been conducted have not looked at a variety of possible variables that would affect a person’s confidence when choosing a guilty individual.
There are enormous implications for individuals who are suspects in a crime and are identified in a lineup. Individuals in this situation may want to speak with a criminal defense attorney to learn about their rights and create a defense. If necessary, the attorney may represent their client in court. They may be able to use material gathered from law enforcement, eyewitnesses and others to help their client build a case.