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The problem with eyewitness testimony

On Behalf of | Jul 28, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Eyewitness testimony can be some of the most compelling evidence in a criminal trial. However, they can also be some of the most unreliable forms of evidence because eyewitnesses often remember things differently than they actually happened. 

What are the problems with eyewitness testimonies, and how can they impact criminal trials?

Why are eyewitness testimonies unreliable?

Eyewitness testimony can be problematic for several reasons. Human memory is notoriously unreliable. We often remember things that didn’t happen, or we misremember details. 

Also, people’s memories can be influenced by what they see and hear after an event. For example, if someone is shown a suspect’s photograph after witnessing a crime, their recollection of the suspect may be influenced by the picture. 

Furthermore, people’s biases can also influence their memories. For instance, someone who discriminates against people of a certain race may be more likely to mistakenly identify a member of that race as the perpetrator of a crime.

Stress can also cause people to remember things in a more visually vivid way, but it can also distort details and lead to memory fragmentation. 

Finally, the passage of time can also cause memories to fade and become less accurate. In some cases, false testimony has led to the conviction of innocent people for crimes they did not commit. 

A good defense can mitigate the problems with eyewitness testimonies by conducting thorough investigations and using expert witnesses to challenge the accuracy of memories. This can help protect your rights and your future when you’re facing serious criminal charges.