On June 27, a U.S. attorney announced that a 23-year-old man from Houston was taken into custody in connection with a bank robbery that took place in Beaumont in eastern Texas. The bank robbery reportedly took place on June 3 at a bank located on Gladys Avenue, where the accused allegedly gave a demand note to the bank teller and displayed a gun by lifting his shirt. He then reportedly left the bank with $2,309.
The media disseminated images taken from at least one surveillance camera. Citizen tipsters and the bank teller identified the defendant, who made an initial appearance before a U.S. magistrate on June 26 after being brought into police custody on June 25. If he is convicted of the charges against him, he may receive up to a 20-year federal prison sentence.
In this news story, the defendant was identified using surveillance camera footage. This type of identification may be open to challenge in court for a number of reasons. Surveillance footage might be of poor quality and may lead to a mistaken identification. Witnesses can also be unreliable because of the heightened state of emotion during a traumatic incident, or they may have memory problems.
If the primary evidence against a defendant is witness identification, a criminal defense attorney might be able to challenge the evidence at the trial and may win an acquittal. However, if there is additional direct evidence or the defendant wishes to avoid a trial, the attorney may suggest a plea bargain. Once the defense and prosecution agree on a plea deal, the case may be resolved without a trial.
Source: Cleeveland Advocate, " Houston man arrested for Beaumont bank robbery ", June 27, 2014