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3 Flaws in Criminal Investigations

Criminal Investigations Aren’t Always Reliable

The criminal justice system is notoriously flawed. While many people argue that the justice system is, well, unjust, we examine what factors play a role in this negative stereotype. Primarily, we will take a look at issues affecting criminal investigations, which ultimately influence the verdict of your criminal case.

According to the Texas State University Center for Geospatial Intelligence and Investigation, criminal investigations can fail due to the following three elements:

  • Cognitive Bias: In his journal entitled Failures in Criminal Investigation, Dr. Kim Rossmo defines this as the biased beliefs and memory limitations of eyewitnesses to the crime being investigated, investigators' reliance on their intuition rather than reliable data that are carefully and logically analyzed and investigators' use of simplistic "rules of thumb" that ignore the complexities and alternative scenarios presented by case evidence. He further mentions that “tunnel vision” adds to the issue by focusing narrowly on a limited range of possibilities regarding the features of and suspects in a case. Examples of cognitive biases include:
    • Confirmation bias
    • High-profile crime/media attention
    • Careless/incompetent investigation
    • Improper interrogations
    • Rush to judgment
    • Flawed forensics
    • Problematic witness/informant
    • Evidence analysis/logic failure
  • Organizational Traps: In the same journal, Dr. Rossmo defines organizational traps as elements that can undermine investigations and emphasize quick solutions with limited resources. Organizations tend to promote uniformity and standardization that resists change and creativity, which can restrict investigators' options and behaviors in pursuing and analyzing evidence. Further, they hesitate to acknowledge mistakes and change course in major investigations that receive media attention. An example of an organizational trap is groupthink, which is the practice of self-deception, forced consent and conformity to group values and ethics.
  • Probability Errors: These pertain to flawed assessments of the likelihood that an outcome resulted from a particular set of causes, according to Dr. Rossmo. Probability errors include the failure to consider coincidence in assessing links among events and computation mistakes that underestimate or overestimate the likelihood that two or more events would be connected. Simply put, these are calculation issues that falsely pinpoint a cause to an effect.

We Can Combat These Failures

There is far too much at stake to let these three criminal investigation flaws go unnoticed. Your future and freedom depend on the investigation against you, so if cognitive biases, organizational traps and probability errors interfere with this, we must step in.

As a result, it’s important to retain our skilled criminal defense lawyer to identify and evaluate the issues and inconsistencies associated with your criminal investigation. As a former prosecutor, our attorney knows what to look for in criminal investigations and can expose the prosecution for their investigative flaws. Along with aggressive defense, you can count on us to exhaust high-caliber legal resources and skills to help you combat your accusations. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at (414) 882-8382 to learn more!