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Is eyewitness testimony always credible?

Eyewitness testimony factors into the convictions of many criminal defendants in Delaware courts. A compelling account provided by someone presenting precise details about a crime could make a defense attorney’s job challenging. That said, eyewitness testimony is not always credible. Eyewitnesses are human beings, which makes them prone to mistakes. When issues with testimony accuracy arise, a defense attorney might point out problems with a witness’s statement.

The trouble with eyewitness testimony

Eyewitness testimony is nowhere near as clear as security camera footage. Sometimes, the witness’s testimony could conflict with recorded images presented by the defense. Does that mean the eyewitness is deliberately trying to deceive the court? In many cases, a person might not remember details, and the mind could be filling in the blanks that do not coincide with the facts.

Sometimes, eyewitnesses do lie. A criminal may wish to save him or herself from legal troubles and prison time by lying about another person. So, credibility counts when a witness provides testimony in a criminal law case. Likely, outright false testimony is less common than someone misremembering facts. Regardless, mistaken testimony might lead to a conviction if not adequately challenged.

Circumstances surrounding the events

Someone who claims to see another person at a crime scene may believe he or she is telling the truth. However, many question marks may surround the statements. Did the person witness the event on a sunny afternoon or 3 AM during a heavy rainstorm from a distance? Anything that could hamper vision or hearing might lead to arriving at an inaccurate assessment of what occurred.

And then there are those witnesses prone to bias. They may convince themselves they saw something they didn’t, even when facts prove otherwise.

U.S. criminal law centers on guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. An attorney that raises concerns about a witness’s testimony might establish doubt.