Traffic stop leads to Louisiana pair being charged with a crime

The identification of suspects by the authorities is a process filled with potential flaws. Police must try to be reasonably certain that they have based their identification and arrest on solid evidence that will hold up under later scrutiny. In a recent Louisiana incident, two individuals were arrested and charged with a crime based on an initial identification of the car in which they were riding a day after the alleged crime.

The reported residential burglary took place in Shreveport. A homeowner told police that someone knocked on his front door and when he went to investigate, he observed a man kicking at his carport door. The owner reported that the man then fled in a car driven by a woman. He described the car and the perpetrators to the police.

The next day, two Shreveport police officers observed a vehicle that matched the one provided by the homeowner. They stopped the car for a traffic stop and arrested the driver for driving with a suspended license. The male passenger was not then charged with a crime.

According to police, their continuing investigation led to the arrest of the male passenger the next day on burglary charges. While interviewing the man, police indicate that they learned that the woman being held for driving under suspension was the driver in the alleged burglary. They charged the woman with burglary also.

This case illustrates some areas central to the preparation of a criminal defense. For one thing, it should be determined if a crime was actually committed or if the correct crime was charged. The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt all of the legal elements of the charged crime. And, if a traffic stop is involved, the defense will look into whether it was a legally justified stop.

Also, a criminal defense in Louisiana should look closely at identification evidence. A witness's description of a car allegedly used in a crime could be rife with inaccuracies and mistakes. Eyewitness identification also is subject to numerous misperceptions. The bottom line is that when a person is charged with a crime, it is critical to prepare a defense that is thoroughly researched and that clearly focuses on the key defense issues.

Source: ksla.com, "Two suspects face burglary charges," Kerry Kirspel, Jan. 18, 2013

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