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Eyewitness identification and the trouble that comes with it

On Behalf of | Oct 9, 2019 | Firm News |

When crimes are committed in Florida and an eyewitness comes forward, many falsely believe that is the end of the case and law enforcement officials have solid evidence to put the alleged perpetrator away. In all reality, eyewitness testimony may not be as reliable as previous thought and The Washington Post highlights over 1,400 people over the last 25 years who have been released and exonerated years after their conviction. One issue that has been associated with wrongful convictions is faulty eyewitness testimony. 

Many believe that the memory records events like a video camera, right down to the tiniest detail. Memory is susceptible to biases and error and is malleable depending on the experiences of the individual. People forget other people they knew and events that happened. Details can be mixed up and time and place of the incident can be confusing. While eyewitness testimony is convincing, it is not always accurate. 

According to NOBA, studies conducted over the last few decades indicate that when it comes to convincing a jury, eyewitness testimony is one of the most compelling aspects of a case. Along with this evidence, there is solid proof that eyewitness accounts also play a huge part in wrongful conviction and send people to jail or prison for crimes they had no part in committing. 

The expectations of the world and a person’s own experience can greatly affect their memories of an event. Memory templates are created because the same patterns and habits are performed every day. This may result in a lack of consistent information when it comes time to remember an important event like a crime. 

People can even go so far as to have false memories or create events that did not happen. Studies have shown that events can be planted in a person’s memory with the right manipulation or feedback. All these issues highlight that eyewitness testimony should be backed up by objective, solid physical evidence before a conviction.