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The reliability of eye witnesses

On Behalf of | May 4, 2021 | Blog |

In a typical criminal prosecution in Missouri, different types of evidence are brought into play in the prosecution and defense of a case. This may include eyewitness testimony. This reality raises the question if eyewitnesses are reliable. Time and again eyewitness testimony in criminal cases proves to be unreliable.

Why eye witness testimony can be unreliable

There are a number of different reasons why eyewitness testimony proves itself unreliable in a notable number of cases. A basic reason is that even a person with solid vision has limitations when it comes to seeing at a distance. Even at 10 feet away, a witness can have issues discerning details about another individual. At 200 feet, a witness will not be able to make out some facial features. At 500 feet, distinguishing facial features is impossible.

With this in mind, convictions have occurred based on witness testimony of 450 feet away, including in murder cases. In some instances, this has resulted in factually innocent people ending up incarcerated for what amounts to significant periods of time.

Overturned convictions and eyewitness testimony

The Innocence Project is an organization that leads the way in overturning wrongful convictions based on different constitutional and criminal law arguments and other contentions. According to the Innocence Project, 78% of convictions the organization has successfully involved unreliable eyewitness testimony.

The potential unreliability of eyewitnesses underscores the need for a strong defense if you find yourself facing criminal charges. The first step in ensuring you have suitable and effective representation is scheduling an initial consultation with an experienced Missouri criminal defense attorney. As a matter of practice, many Missouri criminal defense lawyers charge no fee for an initial consultation with a prospective client.

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