Jan 30, 2023

Discrediting eyewitness testimony

Criminal Defense

Eyewitness testimony is often viewed as the most reliable element in a criminal case. This is not actually true. Psychological studies have revealed that eyewitness testimony is more fallible than previously thought. Understanding the weaknesses and vulnerabilities in eyewitness testimony can help you discredit the witness in your case.

There are a few things to understand when you contest the testimony.

Pressure to identify

If the eyewitness picked you out of a lineup, they may have felt pressure to pick someone. The officer in charge of the lineup or the prosecuting attorney may have implied that the assailant was present in the lineup and identification was necessary to ensure the case. Sometimes, they may even lead the witness to the individual in the lineup.

Fallible memory

If more than a couple of months has passed since the incident, it is important to consider the fallibility of human memory. Remember that people do not always remember all of the details of an event. Instead, the brain remembers things in the way that makes the most sense in recall. If there were any leading questions or insinuations along the way, those things can alter the way an eyewitness recalls an event.

Calling eyewitness testimony into question often means casting light on the most common memory recall mistakes. Investigate the eyewitness carefully, looking for any vulnerable areas. Consider asking questions about an event that happened some time ago to test the witness on their ability to recall details. When you showcase how easily you can taint memories, it casts doubt on eyewitness testimony.