Over the past few decades, eyewitness accounts have become less and less valid for their lack of dependability. Many convictions have happened due to inaccuracies, false statements, or mistakes.
Whatever the case may be, many eyewitnesses have put innocent people behind bars. However, some of these convictions have been overturned, and those accused have been released, thanks to advances in forensics.
If you are wrongly accused of a crime, it may be due to a faulty identification by a witness. Fortunately, these discrepancies can be remedied. Here, Rahul Balaram, criminal defense attorney, shares essential information about the reliability of eyewitness identification.
They Aren’t Reliable
Faulty witness testimonies and identifications have resulted in the wrongful convictions of thousands of people over the centuries.
Unlike other forms of evidence, eyewitness identification isn’t concrete. The witness may not have seen the suspect well enough, or their memory may fail them. Whatever the reason, there is likely missing information, and the brain will “fill in” what is missing. Therefore, a witness may pick someone from a police lineup simply because their mind rationalizes that the person matches their vague idea of the suspect’s appearance.
They Might Not Have Seen Clearly
While the witness may be sure they correctly identified the suspect, prosecutors shouldn’t be. The witness might not have seen the suspect clearly enough to be sure that it was them. It may have been too dark to make out their distinct features, they may have had something covering their face, or their view may have been obstructed.
The human mind is incredible, sophisticated, and capable of many amazing things, but when it comes to identifying a suspect based off of memory, it can’t be trusted.
Science has shown that the brain reconstructs memories every time we recall them. Because of this, memories often seem harder and harder to recall with accuracy over time; it’s easy to think something may have happened when it is, in fact, a false memory.
What to Do If You’re Falsely Accused
If you’ve been wrongly accused of a crime based off of a witness’s misidentification, it’s vital to know your rights. Talk to an attorney and discuss your options.
The first step would likely be to build a credible base for yourself that proves your innocence through the use of hard evidence, like time-stamped surveillance videos. Your lawyer can also push to discredit the witness’s testimony and identification if certain factors disallowed them to see the suspect clearly.
Many cases have resulted in a conviction based off a witness’s report, and are overturned later when more reliable information, such as DNA evidence, is presented. If you’ve been convicted, talk to a lawyer about exercising your right to appeal your case.
About Rahul Balaram:
Rahul Balaram is an experienced and dedicated attorney that has represented hundreds of clients. Mr. Balaram takes pride in ensuring his clients are aware of every aspect of their case and that their interests are presented with dignity, compassion, and competence.
Rahul opened the Balaram Law Office in Santa Rosa and is widely known for his excellent trial skills, his unrelenting work on behalf of his clients, and the outstanding results that his clients receive.