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Criminal reform may help victims of mistaken identity

Michigan residents may have heard about groups such as the California Innocence Project that aim to help those who have been wrongfully convicted. One man spent eight years in prison for a sex crime before DNA evidence exonerated him. He was convicted because a witness wrongfully pointed him out as the person who committed the act. In many cases, an individual will pick someone out of a lineup who looks vaguely familiar a person they believe committed an offense.

Over time, the witness becomes more convinced of the decision until he or she believes that the person picked out of the lineup actually committed a crime. Throughout the state of California, reforms have been made to decrease the likelihood of errant identification. One such reform is the use of double blind lineups. They have been shown to be more accurate without making it harder for a person to identify a suspect.

However, San Diego County has been hesitant to adopt these or other reforms. This leads to a process in which suspects are picked out of lineups in a nonstandard manner. While previous reform bills have been vetoed by previous state governors, it is believed that state leaders will become more receptive to them over time.

In a criminal trial, there are many steps that an attorney may take to help a client obtain a favorable outcome. For instance, legal counsel could challenge statements made by a witness implicating a defendant in an assault or other crime. Legal counsel could also choose to cast doubt on physical evidence or police reports created in a case. This may result in a prosecutor offering a plea agreement or a defendant winning a full acquittal from a jury after the trial ends.