The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office has adopted new procedures when showing eyewitnesses photo line-ups. The Sheriff's office along with State Attorney Michael McAuliffe has offered a new policy when an eyewitness to a crime is shown a photo line-up that is used to identify the assailant of a crime.
In the new procedure, deputy sheriffs will be required to use a “blind administration” of the photo line-up. This means that the deputy sheriff who is showing the eyewitness the photo line-up will not know who the assailant is. This will help ensure that there will not be any tainting during the selection process. Additionally, the deputy sheriff administering the photo line-up will give a cautionary instruction telling the eyewitness that the suspect may or may not be in the photo line-up and that the investigation will continue even if no one is chosen.
As an experienced criminal defense attorney, I know that mistaken identification is the number one leading cause of wrongful convictions. We have seen innocent people sent to prison and later exonerated. Not only is it tragic to convict an innocent person of a crime, but the person who perpetrated the crime is walking free. This is a break through for Palm Beach County. Both the State Attorney and Sheriff Ric Bradshaw are to be commended for establishing this procedure. Hopefully, all police departments in Palm Beach County and across the State of Florida follow in these steps.