Identity can be a crucial issue in some bank robbery prosecutions in New York and elsewhere. In some cases, the suspect is identified at a later time by a process of circumstantial evidence without establishing identity as an absolute certainty. The tendency of bank robbers to cover their faces during robberies adds to this identity problem. Due to the seriousness of the felony charges, criminal defense counsel has a duty to investigate the strength of the prosecution's identification proof thoroughly.
The New York State Police recently arrested a man for bank robbery after finding him in a disabled car on the New York State Thruway. Investigators claim to have put together a number of circumstances in two separate bank robberies to have come up with the suspect's identity prior to his arrest. When they questioned him in the disabled vehicle, they eventually realized that they had the man who was wanted on warrants for bank robbery.
Police indicate that surveillance tapes added to their identification of the suspect in that they "believed" that it was the same person and further confirmed the identity after teaming up with the FBI. It is not known whether the perpetrator wore a disguise or mask during the incidents. The defendant is being held by the FBI at this time, which presumably indicates that the prosecution will take place in federal court.
The defendant's counsel will thoroughly review and analyze the alleged chain of circumstantial proof to determine whether there are serious weaknesses in proving the felony charges. In federal court as well as state court, each separate element of the criminal offense must be proved by proof beyond a reasonable doubt. When counsel cannot find a substantial defense to the charges, one or more discussions with the defendant must be conducted to explain and explore the possibilities involved in seeking a negotiated plea agreement.
Source: wivb.com, "Lockport man linked to bank robberies, is charged after State Police arrest him on Thruway", Mark Belcher, Jan. 26, 2016