The Validity of Eyewitness Testimony
April 19, 2022
Eyewitness testimony is one of the most critical pieces of evidence used in criminal cases. In some cases, testimony presented by eyewitnesses may be the only piece of evidence that the prosecution has against the defendant. Since eyewitnesses are under oath when providing their testimony at trial, jurors often give eyewitnesses too much credibility.
However, there are several problems with the validity of eyewitness testimony in criminal cases. An inaccurate or false testimony can have dire consequences. As an experienced criminal defense attorney at McCready Law Group, I help clients challenge the validity of eyewitness testimony and determine whether they can suppress certain pieces of evidence from their cases to prepare a strong and winning defense strategy.
I provide legal counsel to clients facing criminal charges in Long Beach, California, and throughout the state, including Lakewood and Cypress Hill.
The Role of Eyewitness Testimony in a Trial
In criminal law, the term “eyewitness testimony” refers to a person’s firsthand account of a crime or incident they have witnessed. Typically, an eyewitness is either a person who became a victim of the defendant’s alleged crime or a bystander who was present at the crime scene at the time of the incident and saw what happened.
Eyewitness testimony plays a critical role in a trial and the criminal justice system as a whole. Because eyewitnesses provide testimony under oath, jurors may find their testimony reliable and compelling. However, there are numerous factors that can affect the accuracy of eyewitness testimony. If the reliability of false or inaccurate eyewitness testimony is not called into question, the defendant may be wrongfully convicted.
Pros and Cons of Eyewitness Testimony
Eyewitness testimony can be useful in many criminal cases where there is no other compelling or physical evidence to prove the defendant’s guilt. Eyewitness testimony can be used to establish elements of the crime, which can lead to a conviction.
Despite the significant role that eyewitness testimony plays at trial, many factors make the testimony unreliable. Some of the factors that may affect the validity of eyewitness testimony in criminal cases include:
The eyewitness’ vision, memory problems, or health condition
The eyewitness’ level of trauma at the time of the incident
The distance between the eyewitness and the location where the crime took place
Whether the eyewitness was threatened with a weapon
The amount of time between the event and the date of the trial
These and many other factors may affect the eyewitness’ ability to recall the event or otherwise provide an accurate testimony at trial. According to the Innocence Project, an estimated 75% of wrongful convictions for such crimes as murder and rape are based on eyewitness testimony.
The Impact of Eyewitness Testimony on a Criminal Case
In many criminal cases, eyewitness testimony serves as the primary piece of evidence during the investigation. Testimony provided by witnesses who saw what happened can lead to an arrest and may eventually lead to a conviction. During the investigation, an eyewitness may have to identify a suspect by providing a physical description or attending a live lineup.
If the court goes to trial, the witness may be asked to show up in court and provide their testimony in front of the jury and judge. While eyewitness testimony can have a tremendous impact on the outcome of a criminal case, witnesses’ accounts may not be as accurate or reliable as other types of evidence.
If you are facing criminal charges and believe that your case is built on inaccurate or erroneous eyewitness testimony, do not hesitate to speak with an attorney. As a criminal defense attorney with decades of experience, I understand that eyewitnesses do not always get it right. My goal is to defend my clients and help them get outstanding results in their cases.
Contact McCready Law Group to Discuss Your Defense
If your criminal charges are based on eyewitness testimony, you must speak with an attorney to determine if there are grounds to challenge the validity of testimony in your case. At McCready Law Group, I have the experience to help them secure dismissals and not-guilty verdicts. You can discuss your defense options today by reaching out to my office in Long Beach, California.