SPONTANEOUS MISIDENTIFICATIONIN WRONGFUL RAPE CONVICTION

By Matthew B. Johnson and Sydney Melendez


Eyewitness misidentification is recognized as the single largest con-

tributor to wrongful criminal conviction. Psychological research has fo-

cused on a host of event related and police procedural features associat-

ed with misidentification. However, “spontaneous misidentification,”


where a crime victim, in a chance encounter, mis-identifies an innocent


person as a perpetrator, has received very limited attention in the re-

search literature. Fourteen instances of spontaneous misidentification


that led to wrongful conviction are presented from archival sources. All

of the cases involved “stranger rape” perpetration. The implications for

future research are discussed.


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