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Weak eyewitness testimony calls for strong criminal defense

In New Hampshire and elsewhere, eyewitness identification is often an important piece of the prosecution's case against an unknown perpetrator who may have been observed only fleetingly by onlookers. Such evidence is subject to being attacked strongly in some cases. An experienced criminal defense counsel can sometimes quite effectively succeed in having the witness agree that he or she had a poor vantage point for seeing and recollecting the perpetrator's body and/or face.

A robbery occurred in downtown Portsmouth in New Hampshire just recently, and the authorities have reported apprehending a suspect within a short time thereafter. They say that the suspect's description was provided by the victim, who described being robbed at knifepoint. There were no injuries in the alleged robbery, and the victim admittedly did not personally know the alleged perpetrator. This is an area of the case in which criminal defense counsel must obtain sufficient assurance that the authorities did not apprehend the wrong person.

The victim here apparently told police that the perpetrator was riding a bicycle, and either the victim or another witness told police that he was seen heading toward the Memorial Bridge, which crosses into the state of Maine. The remainder of the description given to police is unavailable. Within a short time after the robbery, the Kittery, Maine Police picked up the suspect riding a bicycle. He is now held there as a fugitive and is awaiting extradition back to New Hampshire to face a charge of armed robbery.

If the witness testimony is seemingly accurate and unshakeable, and if the pieces of the prosecution's evidentiary puzzle all fit together, then the defendant and his criminal defense attorney will have to seriously discuss a plea bargain with New Hampshire authorities. Early negotiations that save the government time and precious resources can lead to significant reductions in the potential sentence. On the other hand, if the defendant strenuously claims innocence, and that claim is accompanied by one or more evidentiary holes in the prosecution's proof, then defense counsel will challenge the arrest and will do so with appropriate legal justification.

Source:, "Kittery Police arrest knifepoint robbery suspect", Aug. 29, 2016

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