If you’re facing criminal charges and the prosecution has an eyewitness lined up to give testimony, you’re likely feeling discouraged about your case. However, research shows that eyewitness testimony is often unreliable in a courtroom. Here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t give up hope just yet.
1. Appearances can be deceiving
It’s been proven time and time again that eyewitness testimony is often inaccurate. While a witness may believe they saw a certain person committing a certain act, they’re often relying on faulty information. Sight and sound are wonderful when they work properly, but humans are fallible, and so are these senses. For example, the farther a witness is from a person, the less detail they are able to distinguish. A study showed that even at 10 feet of distance, certain characteristics aren’t visible. At 200 feet, most witnesses could not even discern a person’s eyes.
2. Witnesses can be influenced
People are easily influenced, whether they realize it or not. As a case proceeds, witnesses may be swayed by different opinions, even unintentionally. For instance, during a lineup, an officer might give some subtle hint that the eyewitness picks up on unknowingly. In the time span between the event and questioning, subliminal clues or leading questions might even cause a person to remember details that never actually occurred.
3. Confidence doesn’t guarantee accuracy
Most importantly, you should know that the confidence of your eyewitness doesn’t guarantee their honesty or their accuracy. A witness may be 100 percent sure that they saw an action or a person, but that doesn’t mean that their memory hasn’t failed. There are numerous factors that affect a person’s mind. Stress, for example, can take a toll on a person mentally, often without notice.
An eyewitness is certainly not as reliable as you may think. Speak with your attorney about the prosecution’s strategy, and they’ll likely have many ideas for a strong defense.