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The Dangers of In-Court Identification

Posted by Attorney James Hairgrove | Jun 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

San Diego criminal defense attorneyA common scene that occurs in almost any criminal defense trial is the in-court identification of the defendant. If there were any eyewitnesses to the alleged crime who are called to testify, they will likely be asked by the prosecutor if they see anyone in court who looks like the person who they saw commit the crime.

Naturally, the witness will always point to the person being represented by a San Diego criminal defense attorney: the defendant. While the witness may be sincere in their belief, it is important to note that witnesses are often encouraged and informed by the police and prosecutors that they have compelling evidence against the named defendant and that the witness's testimony is crucial to obtaining a conviction. The witness may simply assume that they are supposed to identify the defendant.

Finding an Alternative

Given the flaws in this practice, it makes sense to ask if there are any alternatives to it. Your San Diego criminal defense attorney might ask the judge to use one of these alternatives at trial.

The judge might excuse the defendant from appearing at the initial hearing so that the witness cannot identify him or her. Your San Diego criminal defense lawyer might request that a line-up be conducted in court. Alternately, you might be seated in the audience so that the witness cannot readily identify you unless he or she is certain.

Another tactic sometimes used by a San Diego criminal defense lawyer is to ask the police or prosecution to use one of these alternatives to in-court identification. If they refuse, your attorney might point out how they denied you from having a fair and nonsuggestive identification procedure.

Appearing at the Pre-Trial Hearing

Ideally, any alternative to an in-court identification should be performed without the jury present. It should instead be used at a pre-trial hearing, so that if the witness is still able to identify the defendant easily, it will not be seen by the jury. If the witness is able to identify the defendant, it will be much harder to explain away the identification at trial.

Make sure you are prepared for your criminal defense trial. Call a San Diego criminal defense attorney. Call Attorney James V. Hairgrove at 619-667-3743.

About the Author

Attorney James Hairgrove

About My Role I am the Chief Executive at California Law Centers, APC., which incorporates the following legal services: Personal Injury, Family Law, Criminal Law, as well as traffic tickets. I have attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, graduating in 1994 in the top-third of my c...


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