Murder is one of the most serious crimes you can be charged in Texas. If you are convicted, you could be sentenced to the death penalty or life imprisonment. Compared to other states, Texas hands down some of the most extreme punishments for murder charges.
Being accused of murder is highly stressful and overwhelming. The first step you should take is to reach out to a qualified Frisco criminal defense attorney. There are various defenses that a knowledgeable attorney can raise in defense of your case, including mistaken identity. Mistaken identity is a common defense, so it is critical to understand how it works.
What is the Mistaken Identity Defense?
Mistaken identity is a legal defense that is used when the prosecutor files charges against the wrong person. The defense attorney argues that a witness, either intentionally or unintentionally, misidentified the defendant. The defendant admits that the crime was committed but claims that some other person did it.
The mistaken identity defense is commonly raised in Texas murder trials. Witnesses are notoriously unreliable, and the vast number of exonerations that have occurred after the advent of DNA evidence has proven this fact. According to the Innocence Project, mistaken identity played a role in more than 70% of the convictions overturned through DNA testing nationwide.
How Do You Argue the Mistaken Identity Defense in Texas?
There are various strategies that your criminal defense attorney can use when arguing the mistaken identity defense.
- Implicating someone else. Your attorney can present evidence that implicates another person in the crime. For example, they could show physical evidence that the other individual was at the crime scene or had a motive to murder the victim.
- Present an alibi. Your attorney can show evidence that you were somewhere else at the time of the murder. Examples of evidence that you can use to prove your alibi include surveillance video, phone records, witness statements, receipts, and a lack of DNA evidence.
- Undermine the witnesses. There are various methods an experienced attorney uses to discredit an identifying witness, including:
- There was poor visibility. Factors such as darkness, obstructions, and weather conditions can affect visibility.
- The witness was under extreme stress. Studies have shown that a person is much less likely to accurately recall details of an event if it is traumatic, such as murder.
- The witness’s ability to see, hear, or remember was impaired.
- There was racial bias. People have a much more difficult time identifying someone of a different race.
- A significant amount of time passed between the witnessed event and the identification.
- The witness had a motive to lie.
- Challenge the identification process. Your attorney can present evidence that the police used suggestive tactics during the identification process to point the witness to the defendant, for example, if the police only included one Black or Asian in the lineup (which was the defendant).
- Use expert testimony. Your attorney may call an expert witness to explain to the jury how commonly cases of mistaken identity occur and why it happens.
What Should You Do If You Were Falsely Accused of Murder in Frisco?
A murder charge does not need to result in a conviction. If you have been accused of murder, you should immediately reach out to a qualified Frisco criminal defense attorney. It is critical not to speak to the police or participant in a lineup without first consulting with an attorney. When someone is murdered in Texas, there is a lot of pressure on the police and prosecutors to find the person responsible for the crime. This pressure can lead to charges against the wrong person. It is important to have an experienced attorney on your side to protect your rights.
Under the sixth amendment of the U.S. Constitution, you have the right to have an attorney present at a pretrial lineup. An attorney can help you understand the process and help prevent mistaken identity from occurring in the first place. They can record any factors during the process that could lead to mistaken identity, and simply having an attorney present can deter police from engaging in suggestive tactics.
Your Frisco Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one have been accused of murder and have questions about the mistaken identity defense, you should reach out to a qualified Frisco attorney. Philip D. Ray is an experienced attorney who will aggressively defend your rights. Call Philip D. Ray today to schedule a consultation at 469-588-6770.