Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney | Virginia Police Fail to Implement Eyewitness Guidelines

Portner & Shure Law Firm Serving Maryland, Virginia & Washington D.C.

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In 2011, Virginia state law implemented guidelines for police lineups and eyewitness interview regulations. These guidelines were passed to reduce wrongful convictions after DNA exonerations revealed that eyewitness errors were tied to these cases. Since 1989, 13 out of 16 wrongful convictions were caused by eyewitness misidentification. Throughout the nation, more than 70 percent of DNA exonerations were initially caused by this same type of error. Despite these efforts, a recent study showed that nine out of 10 Virginia police agencies have not properly implemented these protective procedures. 144 Virginia police departments and sheriff's offices who responded to the survey showed that only 6 percent had implemented the new policy, 58 percent relied on policy from 2005, and 27 percent relied on policy from 1993. It is clear that stronger measures must be taken in order to ensure that those who pass through the legal system are given a just and fair chance.