The Importance Of Challenging Identification Evidence In Criminal Trials

June 29, 2023


In criminal trials, identification evidence often serves as the fundamental basis for the prosecution’s case. Eyewitness testimony and other forms of identification evidence can have a powerful impact on a jury’s decision-making process. Several factors can lead to misidentification, including flawed police procedures, suggestibility, and memory biases.

Thus, challenging identification evidence is crucial in ensuring that justice is served, an experienced criminal defence lawyer can help you navigate the complexities of these cases.

This blog post will explore the importance of challenging identification evidence in criminal trials and discuss how an experienced criminal defence lawyer can make all the difference.

The Fallibility Of Identification Evidence: Exploring The Risks And Limitations

It is essential to understand that using identification evidence in criminal trials, including murder assault cases, is not foolproof. The fallibility of identification evidence has been demonstrated time and time again through numerous wrongful convictions, where eyewitness testimony and other forms of identification evidence played a key role.

One of the primary risks associated with identification evidence is the potential for witness error. Witnesses can make mistakes for various reasons, including poor lighting, stress, and the passage of time between the crime and the identification.

Another risk is the potential for witness manipulation or suggestibility, where the witness is inadvertently or intentionally led to identify a suspect based on external cues or subtle suggestions from the police or prosecution.

Common Flaws In Identification Procedures Under Canadian Law

One of the most effective ways to challenge identification evidence is to identify the identification procedures’ flaws. In Canada, several common flaws in identification procedures can lead to misidentification or wrongful conviction.

Professional defence lawyers specializing in different criminal defence practice areas need to be able to identify these flaws and use them to their advantage in court. One common flaw is the use of suggestive techniques by the police or prosecution.

For example, showing the witness a photo lineup that only includes one individual who matches the suspect’s description can bias the witness towards selecting that individual, even if they are not the perpetrator.

Another flaw is the failure to conduct a proper identification procedure, such as ensuring that the witness is not exposed to the suspect before the identification.

Eyewitness Testimony In Canadian Law

Eyewitness testimony is often considered one of the most persuasive forms of evidence in criminal trials in Canada. However, it is also one of the most fallible. While eyewitness testimony can be essential for identifying suspects and providing details about a crime, it can also be highly unreliable.

One of the critical benefits of eyewitness testimony is that it can provide a detailed and vivid account of the crime, which can be compelling for a jury. However, it is essential to recognize that eyewitness testimony is often influenced by stress, memory biases, and suggestibility, which can lead to inaccurate or incomplete accounts of the crime.

To effectively challenge eyewitness testimony in Canada, it is essential to understand the limitations and risks associated with this form of evidence.

Also Read: Preparing Yourself To Testify In Edmonton

The Importance Of A Skilled Defence Lawyer In Challenging Identification Evidence

Evidence identification is crucial in criminal trials but can be unreliable or false. Challenging identification evidence is essential to a criminal defence lawyer’s job. The case of R v Oakes, 2016 ABCA 90 (CanLII) demonstrates the importance of challenging identification evidence.

In this case, the accused was convicted of second-degree murder based solely on the identification evidence of a single witness. However, Mr. Royer successfully challenged the reliability of the witness’s testimony. During the trial, Mr. Royer cross-examined the witness and showed over 50 inconsistencies in her testimony. Despite this, the jury convicted Oakes.

Mr. Royer raised various grounds of appeal, including that the conviction resulted from a miscarriage of justice. The appeal court ordered a new trial, highlighting the importance of challenging identification evidence and the risks of relying on it to secure a conviction. This case serves as a reminder of the critical role of skilled and experienced criminal defence lawyers in challenging identification evidence.

About Daryl Royer

Mr. Royer is an Edmonton-based criminal defence lawyer who has handled cases in British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario. He has dealt with cases in numerous provinces and has had five Supreme Court appearances. Learn more about Daryl Royer and his criminal defence services.

Need an experienced and trustworthy criminal defence lawyer? Contact Daryl now.

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