New York Court Rejects Defendant’s Challenge to Lineup Procedure in Recent Drug Case

In a recent New York drug case, the defendant’s attempt to appeal his guilty verdict was unsuccessful. On appeal, the defendant argued that the lineups used to identify him as a drug dealer were not in line with proper procedures, and thus that the decision should be reversed. The court disagreed, ultimately affirming the verdict as well as the defendant’s sentence of time in prison.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, investigators began looking into the defendant when they suspected he was involved in several drug transactions. As part of the investigation, officers used a confidential informant. They had the informant look at a group of photos then identify the defendant to let them know which person in the group of photos had been illegally selling drugs.

In two different picture lineups, sometimes referred to as photo arrays, the confidential informant identified the defendant as someone who they knew to be dealing drugs. The investigation led officers to charge the defendant with two counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree, two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, and two counts of conspiracy in the fourth degree.

The Decision

On appeal, the defendant challenged the validity of the photo arrays. He contested the nature of the photographs in each lineup, saying his photo looked substantially different than the other photos that the informant could choose from. Specifically, said the defendant, it was not fair that he was the only individual in the lineup with a bald head. Because he stood out in this way, the lineup was overly suggestive, and the informant was more likely to choose the defendant out of all of the options provided.

The court denied the defendant’s argument. There is no requirement, said the court, that all of the individuals in the lineup look exactly the same, or even that they all have the same hairstyle. The only requirement in a lineup of this nature is that the individual’s characteristics “must be sufficiently similar” so that the defendant would not be singled out. In this particular lineup, the court found that all of the individuals had the same gender, same race, and a date of birth within one year of the defendant’s. All of the men in the lineup also had similar facial features, such that no one looked totally different from the rest of the individuals who were displayed. Because there were enough similarities between the defendant and the other people in the lineup, this requirement was met and the lineups were legitimate for the state to use in their evidence against the defendant at trial.

Have You Been Charged with Drug Possession in New York?

If you have been subject to drug charges in New York, you have options. At Tilem & Associates, we are familiar with possible defenses that relate to your case, and we are prepared with individualized solutions that will work for you. Our experience, combined with our aggressive defense strategies and hard work ethic, make us uniquely able to ensure that your rights are protected. For a free consultation, call us at 877-377-8666.

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