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Are witness accounts always accurate?

On Behalf of | Jan 8, 2024 | Theft & Property Crimes

Eyewitnesses have long been a staple of the criminal justice system. They are often counted upon to give their testimonies regarding what happened when a crime took place. They may say that they saw someone at the scene of the crime, describe that person‘s actions, or just give police a general description of who they saw and what occurred.

Often, both the authorities and the jury will put a lot of weight on eyewitness testimony. In many cases, these eyewitnesses are unrelated to the event, so they don’t have any reason to lie. Does that mean that the accounts they give are accurate?

Memory is less accurate than people assume

No, this doesn’t mean that eyewitnesses are always correct. In fact, some studies have found that the majority of wrongful convictions involved inaccurate eyewitness testimonies. These individuals may have no reason to lie, and they may even believe that they are telling the truth, but that certainly doesn’t mean that everything they say is correct.

One major issue is that memory itself isn’t that reliable. It changes with recall. Memories can be forgotten or warped over time. The more times that an eyewitness discusses what happened or even thinks about the event, the more likely it is that details will change and their memory will drift further away from an accurate retelling of events.

Criminal defense options 

It is very important for those who are facing allegations to know about the issues with eyewitness testimony. They also need to know about all of the legal defense options they have while going through this process.