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Appearance-Change Instruction in Lineups

Prior to viewing a lineup, eyewitnesses to crimes are often given various instructions by lineup administrators. Among these is the appearance-change instruction, which is used to inform the eyewitness that the criminal's appearance in the lineup may be different from his or her appearance at the time of the crime. Generally, this alteration in appearance would be the result of features that might have changed over time (such as head or facial hair). This instruction is especially likely to be given, and is presumed to be most beneficial, if a significant period of time has passed between the crime and the lineup or if the suspect's appearance is somehow at odds with the witness's description of the criminal. Although frequently administered in an attempt to ...

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