Eyewitness identification in Criminal Defense is one of the major tools that the government uses to put together its case against a criminal defendant. The government in its case before a jury, must be able to prove that it was the accused that committed the crime and not Fraud some other random person. Since eyewitness identification of a defendant is so paramount in criminal cases, the government frequently uses pre-trial lineups as seen in movies such as the Usual Suspects, or pre-trial picture lineups. Pre-trial lineups have come under a lot of scrutiny recently as a result of being unduly suggestive and occasionally tainted.
The general law in Criminal Defense in Pennsylvania regarding lineups of suspects is that an identification based on a photo lineup is admissible so long as the photos are not unduly suggestive of one photo of a defendant over the others. Generally in Criminal Defense, False Swearing a photographic identification of a person is unduly suggestive if, under the totality of the circumstances, the identification procedure creates a substantial likelihood of misidentification. If a suspect’s photograph does not stand out from the others, and the people depicted all exhibit similar facial characteristics, then the photographs used are not unduly suggestive. However, if one photograph of various suspects does stand out from the others, and that photo is picked by an alleged eyewitness, then the lineup is unduly suggestive. A defense counsel can file a motion to suppress or (keep out) the eyewitnesses section of his client from the photo array. The court will keep out all evidence of the selection if the judge believes that the photos are unduly suggestive of one photo over the others. Specifically, the court looks to see if all of the men or women in the photos have similar characteristics, such as eye color, hair color, facial tattoos etc.
This rule regarding photo arrays of defendants does not apply to inanimate objects identified by a witness such as cars (vehicle types), tattoos (unless they are unique tattoos