Few things will sway a jury like a confident witness. This is someone who didn’t know they were going to see a crime happen, who has no reason to lie and confidently states that they saw the defendant at the scene. The defendant may adamantly say that this is not the case, but the jury may assume that they’re lying.
But what if they’re not? What if that witness is simply wrong and does not know they are making a mistake that could change the defendant’s life forever? It happens more often than you think.
Most wrongful convictions involve inaccurate testimony
There’s no way to know how many times this has happened. Many cases revolve around little other evidence, and no one may ever realize the witness was wrong. Even that witness may believe they were right.
However, DNA evidence has made it possible to overturn some convictions. DNA may prove that someone did not commit a crime or that it was committed by an unknown party. Even if a jury originally found the defendant guilty, DNA can get that conviction taken off the person’s record.
When researchers have studied these cases, they have found that roughly 69% of the known wrongful convictions involved mistakes made by eyewitnesses. This suggests that those same mistakes are made in other cases where no one ever discovers the truth. It also casts a lot of doubt on the reliability of a witness, regardless of how confident they sound.
What can you do?
If you’ve been charged with a crime, you must be aware of this serious issue with the justice system, and you need to know what legal options you have to defend yourself.