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Eyewitness testimony and credibility

On Behalf of | Nov 28, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

Compelling evidence makes it easier to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Many Florida criminal trials center on testimony from eyewitnesses. Sometimes, the testimony could be strong enough to secure a conviction. That does not mean that eyewitness testimony is always perfect. In reality, there could be serious problems with such evidence.

Concerns about eyewitness testimony

The credibility of a witness is a vital element of the testimony. If it is shown that the witness is lying on the stand or making false statements, the entire case against the defendant could fall apart. Witnesses could make false statements for several reasons, including attempting to deflect attention from their illegal activities. Others may have a personal grudge carried to the extreme.

Other issues with eyewitness testimony may result from mistaken recollections. The eyewitness may believe they saw what they saw, but they could be misremembering things. They might have viewed an incident during low light situations or watched from too far away. Either way, questions may exist about whether they saw what they claim to have seen.

Further issues about eyewitness testimony

Witnesses may not have heard what they thought they heard. Were they too far away to hear clearly? If so, their testimony might not be credible. They might also have been in a noisy environment, which can further undermine what they believe they heard.

A criminal defense strategy might also look at how the police dealt with a witness. The police could guide a witness towards making false statements, threatening the accused’s rights. Outright police misconduct would be illegal, but it may happen.

Or, the police and prosecutor may not question seemingly contradictory statements. A defendant could address such improprieties in court. Suppressing problematic evidence might help the defendant’s case.