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Is eyewitness testimony always reliable?

On Behalf of | May 20, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

Eyewitness testimony could lead to a criminal conviction in a Lousiana courtroom. Defendants may worry a jury will believe the witness’s statements. The worry might come from the fact the testimony is inaccurate. An innocent person could face troubles when an eyewitness is decidedly mistaken in their beliefs.

Eyewitness testimony and credibility

People make mistakes, and those errors might extend to sworn statements in criminal investigations. Malice may play no role in the false testimony, as the witness sincerely believes that they saw the defendant commit a crime. However, the witness saw a “person with a blue shirt” commit the act. The individual arrested for the crime could have donned a blue shirt that evening, but he or she had nothing to do with the event.

People sometimes misjudge what they see due to low light levels, false perceptions and memories, distance, and more. A district attorney could put too much faith in the testimony, leading to a false arrest.

Dealing with inaccurate eyewitness testimony

In court, a defense attorney may draw attention to the overall picture of witness testimony. When the eyewitness presents inconsistencies, those inconsistencies may create significant reasonable doubt.

Did the police guide a witness to make inaccurate statements? Doing so might indicate illegal actions by law enforcement. Violations of the accused’s civil rights may undermine a prosecutor’s case.

In some situations, criminal defense proceedings may reveal a witness lied. A person could lie for a variety of reasons, and, hopefully, a defense attorney learns the truth and points it out.

An attorney could look at all the evidence presented in court. If the evidence is weak, the attorney could seek a motion to dismiss.