If you are accused of a criminal offense, you are probably very scared and unsure of what to expect. You can be especially frightened if the prosecutors or police tell you that they have an eyewitness prepared to testify against you.
In these situations, you might think that there is no way to defend yourself when someone else says they saw you commit a crime. However, it is crucial to understand that eyewitness testimony is far from perfect.
As this article notes, failure to perform physical or photographic lineups properly can lead to a faulty identification. Everything from lighting to the way law enforcement agents talk to witnesses can affect identification accuracy.
When agents do not perform lineups properly, eyewitnesses can identify the wrong person. Did police suggest that a suspect was in the lineup? Did the witness feel pressured to select someone or given too many photos to choose from? Were there details of a photo array that made one person stand out?
For these reasons, it is crucial to examine lineup procedures.
Individual biases and limitations
There are also personal ability variables that can lead to inaccurate identifications from eyewitnesses.
Biases can greatly affect the accuracy of witness identification, as can physical limitations like lighting and distance. Further, studies show that high levels of psychological stress can impair a person’s ability to recall details and make an identification. A person’s memory can also suffer if he or she was intoxicated or otherwise impaired at the time of an alleged incident.
Challenging eyewitnesses in court
Considering all the potential flaws in an eyewitness’ testimony, challenging it can be a critical element of a person’s defense. Casting doubt on an identification can hinder the prosecution’s case to such an extent that they may consider dropping or reducing charges, or it could sway a jury away from a guilty verdict.
If you are facing criminal charges, then you should know there is a lot on the line and you have the right to defend yourself. Whether this includes challenging witness testimony or not, having an experienced defense attorney on your side can help you identify an appropriate defense strategy.