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Can eyewitness testimony be challenged?

On Behalf of | May 26, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Eye witness testimonies play a crucial role in the criminal justice system. This is because eyewitnesses are sworn to honesty and help provide clear insight and facts regarding an alleged crime.

However, there have been troubling questions about the accuracy of human memory. Moreover, a witness can create some parts of the testimony and be manipulated, leading to a wrongful conviction.

Here are various ways an eyewitness testimony can be challenged:

Exposing bias that resulted in false identification

In some cases, animosity might exist between the witness and the defendant. This can result in the witness falsely identifying the defendant. So, if the witness knows the defendant, their testimony can be challenged by looking for hidden motives that influenced the witness to identify the defendant falsely.

Challenging the memory of the witness

Memories aren’t stored in the brain in a static state. Instead, they change every time they are retrieved. This means they can become partial or degraded when being made or remembered. In addition, memories can evolve whenever there is new information, and the witness might not realize that their memories have changed. Therefore, eyewitness testimony can be challenged, especially if time has passed between the incident and the identification of the defendant. 

Challenging what the victim thinks they saw

In some cases, victims may not have seen what they claimed to have seen. This can be attributed to poor lighting, eye problems, vision obstructions and limited time to see the subject. For example, if the eyewitness saw a crime committed at night, they might not have seen the perpetrator clearly. As a result, their recollection of the incident is less likely to be accurate and reliable in court.

Challenging a lineup procedure

When conducting this procedure, law enforcement officers must abide by the rules. So, the identification can be challenged if the suspect is lined up with other suspects that don’t resemble them

Many factors can render an eyewitness testimony unreliable. Therefore, all issues must be addressed when witness testimony is used to back criminal charges. You may benefit from legal guidance if you face allegations involving witness testimony.