Police lineups are often used as evidence in Texas criminal trials to help identify suspects. However, there are several problems with this method that can lead to false identifications and wrongful convictions.
Witnesses may feel compelled to choose someone from the lineup
When witnesses are shown a police lineup, they may feel pressure to choose someone from the lineup, even if they’re not sure that’s the right person. This can be especially true if the witness is told that the suspect must be in the lineup, or if the police are leading them to believe that they have a strong case against the suspect.
The lineup administrator may inadvertently give cues
The person administering the lineup may unintentionally give cues as to who the real suspect is. For example, they may use body language or verbal cues to signal to the witness which person they should choose.
The lineup may be unfair
The lineup may be unfair in a number of ways. For example, the real suspect may stand out in some way; for instance, they are the only one not wearing a shirt, or all of the people in the lineup may look similar to each other except for the real suspect.
The witness’s memory may be faulty
Witnesses’ memories are often not as reliable as we would like to think. Memories can get influenced by a number of factors, such as stress, time and exposure to media coverage of the crime. This can lead to witnesses feeling pressure to choose someone from the lineup even if they are not completely sure.
The lineup may be corrupted
Criminal defense attorneys also often note that there is a risk that the lineup may be corrupted if, for example, the police only show the witness one person who fits the description of the suspect. This can lead to a false identification.
These problems with police lineups can lead to false identifications and wrongful convictions. If you get charged with a crime based on evidence from a police lineup, it is important to seek ways to challenge this evidence.