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Why the Eyewitness Could Have Identified You in Error in Your Criminal Case

Police often rely on eyewitness identification of the accused person in criminally chagrining him. On the face of it, these witnesses may seem very reliable when they are neutral third parties with no ties to the accused or the victim. The testimony of a witness can be a powerful piece of evidence to a jury. However, the opposite can really be true. Eyewitnesses have a high rate of making errors when identifying the so-called perpetrator of the crime. If you were arrested based on an eyewitness placing you at the scene of the crime, you should not give up hope of fighting the charges.

Reasons Why Eyewitnesses Often Make Mistakes

Many factors go into why an eyewitness may have thought he saw the person being charged with the crime. A witness who is adamant is unfortunately no more reliable than one who admits to being less certain in his identification. Reasons eyewitnesses make mistakes include:

  • High stress. Many eyewitnesses are under stress and feeling terror because they are witnessing the crime firsthand. Sometimes they are trying to escape the danger. This can cause them to focus more on their own survival and to have problems accurately identifying the perpetrator of the crime.
  • Memory. In general, as people go through their days, they do not remember specific details, such as distance, weight, and height of an object or person. This is even more true when witnessing a crime because of the scariness of the situation. If the police pressure a witness for specific details, his brain may be filling in details he does not really remember.
  • Focus on weapon. When a weapon such as a gun or knife is involved in a crime, a witness’ attention may become focused on it and not the details of the perpetrator of the crime.
  • Suggestive identification. Sometimes the police can pressure a witness to identify a suspect or provide details he really can’t remember. In addition, if a witness is asked to identify an accused person in a line up, the police could overtly or subconsciously steer the witness to pick a certain person.

An experienced criminal defense attorney will understand the problems with eyewitness identification and have strategies to highlight the weaknesses in the eyewitness identification of your case. If you have been charged with a crime, start an online chat or call us at 888-733-2992 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to learn how our criminal defense attorneys can help you.


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