Guilford County defense attorneys answer, who can identify a person in surveillance video? If a crime is caught on video, can an officer identify the perpetrator as the defendant? In North Carolina, there has been recent speculation on this topic.
Our courts in North Carolina can allow the testimony of someone who is identifying a perpetrator in a videotape if the witness has knowledge or perception that may be helpful to a jury in deciding if the perpetrator is the defendant. The opinion of the witness may be inadmissible if it invades the role of the jury as the fact-finder. There are multiple factors to take into account when deciding if someone’s knowledge or perception may be helpful in such a situation.
Two factors to consider are the witness’s level of familiarity with the defendant’s appearance in general, and the witness’s level of familiarity with the defendant’s appearance at the time of the video. Has the witness seen the defendant prior to the video? If so, they may generally be familiar with the defendant’s appearance. Does this appearance match that which was seen on the video? Was the witness aware of the defendant’s appearance while on video? If so the witness’s testimony could aid the jury in reaching a conclusion.
Two more factors to consider are whether the defendant disguised themselves at the time of the offense, and whether the defendant has changed their appearance prior to the trial. Does the defendant currently match the description of the perpetrator on the video tape? If not, to what extent does their appearance differ from that of the perpetrator on the tape? Is this a characteristic that could be easily changed? Questions such as this may be useful in determining what witness testimony may be helpful.
If an officer has information that can speak to these specific elements, then their testimony may be useful to the jury. If you are unsure whether opinion testimony that identifies a perpetrator on a video tape fits this description, do not hesitate to contact a Greensboro criminal defense lawyer today at 336-379-0539.