Intoxicated witnesses can be difficult for an officer

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information about the event or identify the suspect accurately and with confidence. Intoxicated witnesses can be difficult for an officer or investigator because they cannot be accurate in both giving a statement about the crime and its events as well as positively identifying the suspect(s) involved. Psychological The second factor that could have an impact eyewitness statements is psychological. With psychological, the witness’s own thoughts and beliefs can have an impact on their ability to positively identify the suspect or suspects that were involved in the crime that was committed. Three topics that will be discussed in this section are unconscious transference, own-race bias and own-sex bias. Unconscious transference is a phenomenon where the witness identifies someone they have seen in a situation at another point in time and confuses them in another situation. For example, the witness confuses someone they saw previous situation with the suspect in the current situation. According to Bartol and Bartol (2019), the witness does not realize that they are doing this, hence “unconscious,” and the witness’s memory becomes “tangled” (p. 112). Own-race bias and own-sex bias are similar terms, but differ in one way: topic. Own-race bias is a phenomenon referred to when the people, such as the witness, discriminates between “faces of their own race or ethnic group than faces of other races or ethnic groups” (Bartol & Bartol, 2019, p. 113). Simply, the person will be able to identify a face of their own race more easily than a face of another race. Own-race bias accounts for many identification errors which in turn effects the investigative process and could impact the outcome of the case. Own-sex bias is similar to own-race bias except that people will discriminate between individuals of their own
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EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS IN THE INVESTIGATIVE STAGE 6 sex than with those that belong to the opposite sex. In simple terms, the person will be able to identify a face of their own sex more easily than a face of the opposite sex. Environmental The second factor that could have an impact eyewitness statements is environmental. Environmental issues can also have a major impact on the witness’s statement and their credibility. The environment can also contaminate the witness’s accounts for the crime and have an impact on their memory, essentially altering it. Leinfelt (2004) gives an excellent example of how the external environment can manipulate memories by presenting information to a witness shortly after their exposure to an event. He discusses the sniper shooting in the Maryland and Washington D.C. area in October 2002. Law enforcement officials revealed important details
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  • Fall '08
  • Wallace
  • Psychology, Eyewitness identification, investigator, witness

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