Some Other Dude Did It! Mistaken Identity In Criminal Defense
Of all the strategies a criminal defense team can employ when representing their client, one of the most interesting is known as the “SODDI” defense, standing for “Some Other Dude Did It”. This defense is used when the defendant claims even though the crime itself was indeed committed, someone else did it. Broadly regarded as the “mistaken identity” defense, SODDI can and has been used in a variety of different cases, from DWI to Murder.
Generally, mistaken identity defenses work by attempting to undermine the evidence, usually witness testimony. By casting doubt on the perceptions or memories of a witness, the defense can cause reasonable doubt among the jury. This defense can be tricky but very effective when done well for this reason.
The main thing to keep in mind with SODDI is that the crime was definitely committed, but not by the defendant. SODDI is used in cases where police find evidence in a residence, vehicle, or other location that is used by multiple people and the defendant can easily claim that because the evidence was found in a common area and someone else committed the crime. Keep in mind that this cannot apply in assault or murder cases in which the defendant is also asserting self-defense.
SODDI has been a popular defense because of the amount of evidence discounting witness testimony. Researchers have been able to prove that quite often, bystanders are unable to recount events in an accurate way. It has been reported that the great majority of overturned convictions had a false eyewitness testimony component. The reliability of witness testimony has plummeted in recent years as its credibility is compared with the new “gold standard” of DNA testing.
One study that discounted witness testimony was performed by a cognitive psychologist who studied witness memory. She showed subjects a video of a car wreck, and then asked them follow-up questions about what they’d seen. When she asked “How fast were the cars going when they hit each other?”, subjects estimated a much slower speed than when asked “How fast were the cars going when they smashed each other?”. The study supported that the phrasing of the question can influence a subject’s memory of the car accident.
The Trojan Horse Defense
A new form of the SODDI defense has appeared recently in the digital age as well. Called the “Trojan Horse Defense”, defendants of several computer crime trials committed in the past 15 years have claimed that a hacker had used a Trojan horse virus to hide incriminating photos on hard drives, bring about cyber attacks on other computers, and even alter tax information. A Trojan virus is an unassuming program that has been downloaded on someone’s computer that actually contains harmful malicious software, or malware. The primary obstacle of the defense is to establish that Trojan viruses are fully capable of such crimes.
There have already been a few notable cases of a successful Trojan horse defense, in which the defense successfully argued that these programs can indeed effectively and discreetly execute malicious actions without raising the slightest awareness from users. Prosecutors try to combat the Trojan defense by arguing that the defendant had the technical computer expertise to knowingly commit the crime. It’s the duty of the defense to raise reasonable doubt among jurors and prove that the defendant’s computer was unknowingly manipulated by a third party.
Emily Kaltman writes for Carroll Troberman Criminal Defense in Austin, Texas. She enjoys writing about law and havign a clean criminal record.
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