Have you ever greeted a stranger, thinking they were someone else? You misidentified them as someone you thought you knew. Imagine how the implications of this phenomenon can impact a criminal investigation.
Mistaken identification happens when a crime victim or an eyewitness wrongly identifies a person who they believe committed the crime. In other words, someone mistakes an innocent person for a criminal.
Why does mistaken identification happen?
Because of mistaken eyewitness misidentification, innocent people go to jail and receive severe punishment for crimes they did not commit. The victim or eyewitness incorrectly chooses the individual from a lineup or photo array.
- The victim or eyewitness made an honest mistake.
- Police misconduct and unethical suggestions that occur during criminal investigations.
- The victim or eyewitness is under duress.
- Someone may have unduly influenced the mind of the victim or eyewitness to choose that person.
- The victim or eyewitness could be reverting to discrimination and prejudice.
Sometimes, an eyewitness will not identify the criminal. Instead, they pick the person who looks most like a criminal. Mistaken eyewitness identification is a significant factor in over 70% of wrongful convictions.
How do you prove a case of mistaken identity?
Eyewitness and victim testimonies can incite tears and sympathy in a courtroom. That is what makes them so convincing. However, misidentification can be accidental or intentional, and an eyewitness testimony is not always reliable upon further probing. You could challenge the credibility of the eyewitness or the identification process. DNA testing can also help clear a person’s name. In other cases, having a solid alibi might be sufficient.
The details matter. Clearing your name matters. You should not let another person destroy your reputation and standing just because they thought you were someone else.