Florida’s New Eyewitness ID Standards Affect Criminal Cases

August 2, 2011 – Florida – New standards for the credibility of eyewitness ID evidence have been developed by 4 of Florida’s criminal justice departments.

The North Country Gazette reports that multiple Florida law organizations have collaborated on guidelines to improve the neutrality and consistency of the eyewitness identification process.

After discussing the current methods and working on improvement standards, each department will develop their own policy to conform to the standards by November 1st, 2011. These improvements will impact the effectiveness of suspect lineups as a method of identifying potentially guilty individuals.

The new standards ask that law enforcement conduct lineups with specific policies:

  • creating the lineup to include documentation of how the witness indicated positive identification of a suspect;
  • better witness instruction for how the lineup identification is conducted (indicating person of interest may not be in the lineup, they are not required to make an identification);
  • specific instructions to the investigator to avoid conduct to influence the witness’ decision;
  • acknowledging that the witness’ inability to make an identification will not stop the investigation;
  • discerning the level of confidence the witness has in their identification results;
  • documenting the procedure using the witness’ response to the lineup and their exact words confirming the identification choice; and
  • training agency personnel presenting the lineup.

These new standards will help create a statewide standard of eyewitness ID, rather than the previous system that varied from agency to agency.

Dealing with the Florida Criminal Justice System

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