California and other states have relied heavily on eyewitness testimony to provide a swaying view on many cases. In fact, jurors are more inclined to hold evidence presented in the form of eyewitness testimony high on their scale of importance. However, is eyewitness testimony really reliable?
Factors that can influence accuracy
When it comes to a criminal defense case, one of the biggest factors that can impact an eyewitness’s testimony is age. The testimony of a younger adult is more likely to be linked to being true as compared to that of an elderly adult. This is because a natural bias is that those in their elderly years have a declining memory. Therefore, they may not remember events correctly or with vivid details like a younger person may.
When a witness takes the stand, the deliverance of the testimony also influences whether or not it’s deemed reliable by the jurors. Those who stumble through their recalling of the event and those who can’t remember specific details that they’re asked to recall can be deemed unreliable. In these cases, the jurors may completely ignore the eyewitness’s testimony.
The Innocence Project was undertaken in 2020 to determine guilt in criminal convictions. This project evaluated DNA evidence in different criminal cases and ended up exonerating 130 people. Out of the 130 cases, 78 of them used eyewitness testimony to convict the defendant. This shows that eyewitness testimony falsely caused the imprisonment of at least 78 individuals.
While eyewitness testimony has been a form of evidence for centuries, it’s not as reliable as some may think. Eyewitness testimony can be a big determining factor in criminal cases. Therefore, it’s important that jurors take the time to assess the credibility of witnesses and the other evidence presented in the case before making a guilty verdict.