This is the next post in a series of articles about defending against aggravated assault charges in Laredo, Texas. The previous post discussed self-defense, a common issue arising in assault cases. Demonstrating that one was reacting to an initial aggressor with reasonable force to defend oneself would provide an affirmative defense to a charge of aggravated assault. Another common defense in aggravated assault cases is mistaken identity of the accused by an eyewitness. When witness’ statement was obtained by overly suggestive police practices, it is possible to exclude the witness’ testimony. The exclusion of eyewitness identifications can involve complicated facts and legal theories. It is essential to engage an experienced defense lawyer to represent your interests. If you have been charged with aggravated assault, contact my office today to speak with a criminal defense attorney.
An eyewitness to a crime can provide powerful evidence in support of a prosecutor’s charge of aggravated assault. One can imagine, for example, a bank robbery after which the robbers flee the scene and must be identified by the witnesses after the fact. Police must abide by certain methods when procuring eyewitness identifications of the suspects. The United States Supreme Court has established a two-part test outlining guidelines by which police behavior and the reliability of witness identifications can be evaluated. If suggestive police behavior occurred, then the court will review a series of reliability factors to evaluate the witness’ reliability. If the court determines that suggestive behavior occurred and the identification was not reliable, then the court may grant the motion to exclude the identification from evidence. Absent other evidence against the defendant, excluding the identification could result in the dismissal of criminal charges.
Consider a situation in which a man notifies the police late one evening that a tall male with brown hair just broke into his neighbor’s house and fled down the street. At the police station, he identifies the suspect in a line-up, comprised of five short blond men and one tall man with brown hair. Presenting a line-up in which the suspect overtly stands out from the others would likely be considered overly suggestive behavior. After further investigation, the defendant’s attorney learns that the eyewitness has seriously impaired vision and was not wearing prescribed eyeglasses at the time he contacted police. The initial crime was reported at night, in a dark area, putting the identification’s reliability into question. These factors may support an argument that the eyewitness’ identification should be excluded from evidence. A judge’s ruling in any given case will, of course, depend upon the specific facts surrounding the situation.
If you have been wrongfully accused of a crime, I cannot overemphasize the importance of retaining an experienced attorney to review the facts of your situation and zealously defend your rights. Contact my office today to speak with a Laredo criminal defense lawyer. My office handles matters throughout south Texas.