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Are police lineups accurate?

On Behalf of | Apr 27, 2021 | Blog, Criminal Defense

Michigan police officers commonly use a police lineup as a way for victims to identify perpetrators. While this has been a longtime practice of police across the nation, a new study suggests that it might not be as accurate as people have thought. In fact, studies are showing that standard police lineups are consistently producing inaccurate results.

Exonerations thanks to DNA analysis

A group of criminal defense lawyers and students undertook a project to help question the validity of police lineups and eyewitness testimony. They reviewed cases where physical evidence was present that could be tested through DNA analysis to determine whether or not the convicted party was actually rightfully convicted. The study ended up overturning 200 convictions for people that were falsely accused. 80% are these cases included an eyewitness that was wrong. That’s a lot of people who were put behind bars because of the false testimony of another.

Police interactions can sway eyewitness identification

There have been numerous studies done on the psychological aspect of police lineups and eyewitness testimony. In one scientific analysis, over 7,000 eyewitnesses throughout the United States, Australia, Europe and Canada were evaluated. Those who received confirmation from a lineup administrator that they chose the right perpetrator, were more confident in their answers when they gave their testimony in a court of law, even when they chose the wrong perpetrator.

While eyewitness testimony has always been a major form of evidence that people look forward to in a criminal case, studies are showing that it’s not as accurate as we take it to be. In fact, eyewitness testimony can be greatly altered by various interactions with the police. It’s important for jurors to realize that eyewitness testimony is not always an accurate account of what happened regardless how confident the eyewitness is on the stand.