Eyewitnesses were once thought to be the best type of evidence to present in a courtroom. However, this is no longer true. Research and history have shown that eyewitnesses are notorious for being wrong. A person may swear he or she saw someone commit a crime, when other evidence later shows it is impossible that the accused is guilty. So, eyewitnesses testimony can sometimes be refuted in a Washington court.
The National Center for State Courts says that when working with eyewitnesses, everyone should be wary. There are many problems with this type of testimony and evidence. The following are three of the main reasons why eyewitness testimony might not stand up in court.
Visual perception is not always correct
Have you ever had a situation where you and someone else saw something happen but your perceptions of the incident were completely different? This is because visual perception is variable. If you were standing in a different location, you probably saw things the other person could not. This happens all the time with eyewitnesses. They think they saw everything that happened, but they did not.
The memory is not reliable
Memories are funny. Humans often have a way of shaping them into what they want them to be. Memories are also not always as clear as you think. The memory is not really trustworthy. When an eyewitness has to tap into his or her memory, the chances can be very high for mistakes.
Manipulating the mind is too easy
It is very easy to make someone believe something that is not true or to manipulate the memory someone has of an incident. In legal cases, this happens all the time with witnesses. It is not always on purpose either. There are many ways that law enforcement and others in the process can change what an eye witness remembers with simple acts that on the surface seem harmless.
So, individuals who are facing criminal charges and find out there is an eyewitness should not lose hope. There may be options for challenging the testimony.