Why you may not be able to trust an eyewitness

In a criminal case, people are often very happy to trust eyewitnesses. They believe that these individuals are telling the truth when they give their account of what they saw happen. This can certainly sway a criminal case when the witness testifies against the defendant.

But, as much as juries see an eyewitness testimony as trustworthy, reports have shown that this is not actually the case. The truth is that eyewitnesses are often wrong, they make critical mistakes and their testimonies may have nothing to do with what occurred. How do we know that things are so problematic?

DNA evidence

We know about this issue because of the rise of DNA evidence over the years. It has often been used to overturn convictions that were made before DNA evidence was possible to use.

What legal teams have found is that the majority of the cases that get overturned by DNA evidence – in other words, it is unequivocally clear that the conviction was incorrect – an eyewitness testimony helped to create that conviction. It may not have been the only reason that the jury voted to convict, but it was a potential reason. This shows that the eyewitness actually made a mistake, perhaps due to their own bias or some other external factor, and that is one of the reasons that people go to jail when they’ve done nothing wrong.

If you are facing criminal charges, you can see why it’s so important to understand all of your defense options. A false conviction can change the course of your life and have a drastic impact on your family.