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Poor-quality surveillance videos land numerous individuals in trouble with the law

Anyone who has watched the evening news knows that surveillance videos captured at crime scenes have become a highly publicized affair. Despite fragmented imagery, wide focus and altogether low pixel density, these recordings of crimes are broadcast throughout the state each day.

The Eagle Tribune recently published a feature on the ubiquitous use of surveillance tapes in criminal investigations here in the Granite State. One of the detectives in Lawrence, Barry Desjardins, who specializes in video analysis for the state, even admitted the technology's shortfalls.

"Don't get CSI syndrome," Desjardins told the newspaper. "A lot of the video we get is poor quality. You can't perform miracles. Every video is a research project."

Robberies, carjackings, assaults and all sorts of other events have been "solved" by sending surveillance videos to local news media. But, how reliable are these video tapes? Even footage supported by witness testimony may be an unreliable piece of evidence, as people's memories of events can be easily manipulated over time.

By asking the public to identify an assailant who is usually wearing a hat, hood or mask on a video that is blurry or pixelated, law enforcement may be inviting an extremely unreliable source of information into their investigations of crimes. Even responders who believe they are being honest and that they really do recognize the individual may be inaccurate. Consider how many times you have seen a person on the street who you believe is a friend, only to realize as you approach that they're a stranger.

If you have been accused of a crime in New Hampshire, it's important that you enlist the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. These professionals can argue your case in court and ensure you receive fair consideration.

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