NIJ Report: Ignoring Eyewitness Rules Results in Wrongful Convictions

According to a National Institute of Justice (NIJ) report obtained by USA TODAY, the mishandling of witnesses during the suspect identification process is the single greatest cause of wrongful convictions in the U.S. The majority of law enforcement agencies have not adopted federal guidelines that have long been in existence.

As reported by USA Today and published by on June 11, ignoring eyewitness rules results in wrongful convictions. A total of 75 percent of wrongful convictions which are later overturned through DNA testing are the fault of flaws in the eyewitness identification process. More than 300 convictions have been overturned through DNA testing since 1989.

In the first National Institute of Justice eyewitness identification standards assessment, 64 percent of police agencies reported having no formal standard for conducting photographic displays of suspects, and 84 percent had no written policy in place for how to conduct live potential suspect lineups. Data for the NIJ report was obtained from 619 police agencies. The study took place over a 15-month period. According to the report, more and more police agencies are realizing that eyewitness identifications are too often unreliable.

According to the executive director of the research forum, Chuck Wexler, the procedure used for eyewitness identification has not received the study and attention it deserves. The credibility of the criminal justice system is in question. No standardization is in place in spite of National Institute guidelines that were established in 1999 as to how witnesses should be used in order to identify suspects.

The Maryland criminal defense attorneys at the firm of Alpert Schreyer want you to understand that if you have been charged with committing a crime, your Constitutional rights do not disappear. You will need an aggressive defense. You deserve to have your rights protected. As former prosecutors, our Maryland criminal defense attorneys understand how the state will build a case against you. Call us today at (866) 444-6363 for a free confidential consultation.

About Andrew Alpert

+Andrew is one of the leading DUI and criminal defense attorneys in both the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia. He blogs about Maryland DUI law, has numerous videos on the subject and has been asked to appear on national television to offer his legal opinion on high-profile criminal cases.