The new edition of Criminal Investigations features a small new section in the area of “confessions” in Chapter 5. It is followed by the familiar “Reliability of the witness” section.
“Why people confess – new
It has been estimated that 80% of all people will confess to a crime. There are two basic catagories of people who confess,
1. guilty parties who psychologically need to “get it off their chest”
2. persons who are not guilty but who act under some urge to confess.
The reliability of eyewitness identification
eyewitness identification and other information provided by eyewitnesses to a criminal offense are relied on heavily by both the police and courts in the investigative and adjudication stages of our system of justice, yet research indicates that eyewitness testimony may be unreliable.
Eyewitness identification and description is regarded as the most unreliable form of evidence and causes more miscarriages of justice than any other method of proof.
Human perception is sloppy and uneven.
Experts distinguish a number of factors that limit a person’s ability to give a complete account of events or to identify people accurately. The following are among those factors:
1. The significance or in significance of the event
2. the length of the period of observation
3. lack of ideal conditions
4. psychological factors internal to the witness
5. the physical condition of the witness
6. expectancy — means that an individual perceives things in the manner in which he or she expects them to appear.
An eyewitnesses conduct can be influenced by expectations and inferences, which in turn can be influenced by the verbal and nonverbal behavior of investigators, the structure of the identification process and the environment in which the identification takes place.”
Attorney Ronald A. Sellon