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Unduly Suggestive Identifications in New York Criminal Cases

In any New York criminal case, there may be a number of potential defenses. One of the most common defenses in crimes involving people who do not know each other is misidentification. When a defendant argues misidentification, they are claiming that another person was the one who committed the offense, and that they were incorrectly identified as the perpetrator.

Recent studies over the past decade have called into question the reliability of identifications. This is especially the case in cross-racial identifications, where the person making the identification is of a different race than the person they are identifying. Understanding the risks of misidentification, courts require that police officers follow certain rules when conducting an identification procedure.

For example, in a recent state appellate opinion, the court reversed the defendant’s conviction for robbery on the basis that the victim’s identification of the defendant was unduly suggestive. Police arrested the defendant after receiving a report from a person who claimed that a man in dreadlocks robbed him. After the arrest, the defendant was placed in a line-up with other individuals, and the victim was asked to identify whether the person who robbed him was in the line-up and, if so, to identify him. All men in the line-up wore hats; however, the defendant was the only person in the line-up with dreadlocks and his dreadlocks were visible.

After the victim identified the defendant, he was arrested and charged with robbery. At trial, the defendant filed a motion to suppress the identification, arguing that the line-up procedure conducted by the police was unduly suggestive. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion to suppress the identification and the defendant was convicted. The defendant appealed.

On appeal, the court reversed the defendant’s conviction. The court explained that while the evidence was sufficient to sustain the guilty verdict, the victim’s identification of the defendant should have been suppressed and not considered by the jury. The court noted that dreadlocks were “featured prominently” in the victim’s description of the robber, and that the defendant was the only person in the line-up to have dreadlocks. The court noted that the fact the men were all wearing hats did not solve the problem because the defendant’s dreadlocks were still visible. The court explained that “the error was not harmless as it cannot be said that there is no reasonable possibility that the error might have contributed to the defendant’s conviction.” Thus, the court reversed the defendant’s conviction and ordered a new trial.

Have You Been Arrested for a New York Robbery?

If you have recently been arrested and charged with a New York robbery or other theft crime, contact the dedicated criminal defense attorneys at Tilem & Associates. At Tilem & Associates, we represent clients who are facing all types of serious criminal charges, including New York drug crime, gun offenses, and other serious felony crimes. Our attorneys work tirelessly to defend your rights at every stage of the case, from the moment we begin working on your case. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, call 877-377-8666 today.

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