This is the sixth post in my series on handling Laredo, Texas charges for sexual assault. My last article discussed the impact of a Miranda violation on such cases. A conviction for sexual assault can lead to devastating and lifelong consequences. It is important to understand the law on sexual assault crimes if you have been charged. It is also important to retain a criminal defense lawyer as soon as you have been arrested to begin defending against the charges immediately. If you or someone you know are in need of assistance then contact my office today to speak with an attorney. We serve much of south Texas.
Eyewitness identifications may be excluded if the police used overly suggestive tactics
The US Constitution prevents eyewitnesses from identifying defendants in court if law enforcement obtained the initial ID through “overly suggestive” procedures. In other words, a witness may not identify someone in court if law enforcement has presented them with a suspect in a way that was meant for the witness to point them out. Texas has added additional protections for accused individuals by codifying procedures which the police must follow when obtaining an ID. Eyewitnesses can be prevented from testifying in court by showing a) that law enforcement used overly suggestive tactics and b) that the identification was not otherwise reliable. Given that many sexual assault cases hinge on an eyewitness ID, excluding such testimony could lead to a dismissal of the charges if there is no other evidence.
The constitutional defense of unreliable and suggestive eyewitness identifications are best described with an example. Suppose an individual contacts the Laredo police claiming they have been sexually assaulted. In the incident report, the witness states that the individual’s face was covered with a mask, and they only saw the suspect’s eye and hair color. The witness provides police with a description of a suspect that is over six feet tall with brown eyes and hair. After an investigation, the police request that the witness come into the station to attempt to identify the suspect in a lineup. In the lineup, the defendant is the only individual over six feet with brown hair and eyes. All other suspects are bald, have blonde hair, or are under six feet tall. Such a witness may be prevented from testifying in Court. This is due to the fact that they could not see the robber’s face and the utilized lineup only had one participant who matched the description. While the outcome of any given case will always depend on the specifics of the matter, this example could lead to a dismissal of the charges if there is no other evidence of the crime.
The process for excluding an eyewitness identification in Laredo begins with the filing of a Motion
The first step in excluding eyewitness identifications is to file a formal Motion with the Court requesting prevention of the identifications at trial. The Motion will need to include the legal grounds on which the defendant is basing their request. The Judge may require an evidentiary hearing to listen to the witness testimony and review the evidence. The hearing will allow the Judge to hear from the police officers as well who conducted the identification procedure. Following the hearing, the Judge will issue an order on their ruling. The Court will take this matter very seriously due to the weight of this type of testimony as well as the constitutional rights of the defendant. If the Judge decides to withhold the eyewitness identification from the jury, the prosecution may choose to dismiss the charges. The filing of the Motion and the evidentiary hearing involve complex legal issues and should be handled by an experienced attorney.
Defending against charges of sexual assault is a complicated and serious matter and it is important to retain an attorney as soon as you have been arrested. Counsel will know the complex procedural requirements of the law as well as possible defenses. I am a Laredo criminal defense lawyer who devotes his practice to representing accused individuals. If you have been charged with sexual assault, then my office will act promptly to plan a defense and provide you with effective legal representation. Contact us online or by telephone today to schedule an initial consultation.