Is eyewitness testimony always credible?

On Behalf of | Sep 24, 2021 | blog, Criminal Defense

Credible evidence could lead to a conviction in a criminal court. Eyewitness testimony, like photographic evidence or text messages, may prove compelling to Maryland juries. Unfortunately, unlike other types of evidence, witness testimony might be far more questionable. Clear, detailed security camera footage might be difficult to refute, but that may not always be the case with eyewitness recollections.

Eyewitness testimony comes with concerns

One tremendous problem with eyewitness testimony derives from simple mistakes. A witness may believe he or she saw a specific person commit a particular act. However, the witness might make a mistake based on the amount of light available, distance, weather conditions, and even poor eyesight. Witnesses could sincerely believe they saw what they saw, but they were mistaken.

Faulty memory might play a role in an eyewitness’s inaccurate testimony. Perhaps the person was under the influence at the time and recollected things inaccurately. Again, sincere beliefs about what happens don’t necessarily tell a story about what did happen.

Serious violations of civil rights

A criminal defense strategy could reveal serious problems with eyewitness testimony, problems that might involve civil rights violations. Regrettably, police misconduct might factor into an eyewitness providing inaccurate testimony. An investigator may lead a witness to identify a “preferred” suspect in a lineup or through police photos. An officer could even give the witness crime scene details the person never previously knew.

A witness might be the one who lies to the police. A potential suspect may falsely accuse another person to divert attention from guilt. Others could make false claims to achieve other purposes, such as presenting dubious evidence in a divorce case.

False testimony and perjury may leave the eyewitness facing criminal charges. Hopefully, a defendant can present evidence that counters any false witness testimony. Doing so may lead to a positive outcome in court.