Last updated on September 16, 2021

Can Michigan Police and Prosecutors Rely on Facial Recognition Technology?

Science and technology play an increasingly important role in our society. Over recent decades, advancements in these areas have been incorporated into the Michigan criminal justice system, with the advent of DNA evidence and other new scientific evidence. While, in theory, reliance on new types of evidence can help the fair administration of justice, too often, these new developments are used solely to obtain convictions, rather than to ensure a fair process for those facing serious crimes.

A recent example of the fallibility of new types of evidence is discussed in a New York Times article. The article details the arrest of a man who was identified through facial recognition software.

Evidently, in February, 2019, a man stole candy from a convenience store. Police responded, and the man gave them a fake identification card. However, as the officers were processing the arrest, the defendant fled by hopping into the car and driving off. As he was fleeing the scene, he hit a police car and almost hit a police officer who was on foot.

The man got away; however, he left his fake ID with the officers. The officers took the picture from the ID, and plugged it into a database. Relying on facial recognition software, police identified the defendant, and the shop owner agreed that the defendant was the one who stole the candy. The defendant was arrested, and spent 10 days in jail before posting a $5,000 bond.

However, the defendant had an alibi. He contacted Western Union, which provided proof that he was at a pharmacy over 30 miles away from where the crime occurred, trying to send money. He presented this proof to the prosecution, and the case was later withdrawn for lack of evidence.

While there is a dispute about whether facial recognition software was used—or if the officers made the identification based on a comparison of their own—the police department still uses facial recognition software when identifying suspects.

As the New York Times article points out, this is the third instance where someone was wrongfully arrested based on facial recognition software. In each case, the use of the software resulted in the arrest of a black man. Since the man’s arrest, there have been numerous calls for police departments to stop using faulty facial recognition software to identify suspects; however, the practice remains common in police departments nationwide.

Have You Been Arrested for a Michigan Crime?

If you’ve been arrested for a serious crime, contact the dedicated attorneys at Michigan Defense Law. At our firm, we aggressively represent clients facing all types of serious allegations, including Michigan theft crimes, violent crimes, weapons offenses, and more. We keep up-to-date on all scientific, technological, and legal advancements to ensure that our clients are afforded the representation they need and deserve in the face of potentially life-changing allegations. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with an attorney to discuss your case, call 248-451-2200 today. With Michigan Defense Law in your corner, your future is in good hands.

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