Arlington, MA asked in Criminal Law and Federal Crimes for Massachusetts

Q: so i work for loss pervention and i filed a police report on a shoplifter which is going to court

i got the name of the subject from other workers that claim they dealt with them in the pass the detective thinks they look similar comparing the photo i gave and the one already on file with the police when this goes to court what happens if it isn’t the same person? will i go to jail? for accidentally falsely accusing someone

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1 Lawyer Answer
William Barabino
William Barabino
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Medford, MA
  • Licensed in Massachusetts

A: Dear Questioner,

Thank you for your question.

Based on what you have mentioned it seems like your concern is that you may have misidentified the potential shoplifter. Misidentification is a process in which someone in good faith believes that they have identified the right perpetrator of a crime, but it actually is not the right person. It is important for you to be as truthful as you can be when this happens. People make mistakes and maybe you simply made a mistake. I would suggest bringing your concerns to the local police department or district attorney, which I assume is on the case. They will walk you through what happened and address your concerns.

As a defense attorney, when we are looking at misidentification we are looking at the witness's opportunity to look at the event. By this, we mean any characteristics of the witness that may have contributed to a misidentification. For example, how good was the witness's eyesight? Were they experiencing illness of fatigue? Were they under stress? Was there a cross-racial identification? How much time passed? Did that person express any degree of certainty when they made the identification? Was there any exposure to outside information?. Were there any identification procedures they had to follow? Do they have a history with misidentification? Etc.

Most importantly, remember that mistakes happen. If you legitimately feel that you may have misidentified the person, I recommend bringing it to the attention of the decision-makers as soon as you can. This includes the DA and the police department prosecuting the case. I recommend telling the truth and doing so to the best of your ability.

I hope this helps.



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