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Are eyewitnesses actually accurate?

On Behalf of | Apr 28, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Many Illinois court trials feature an eyewitness or two. In fact, lawyers know that eyewitnesses can be a big benefit for any case. However, more recently, experts have been questioning the accuracy of these individuals.

The statistics show there is a problem

As the introduction of DNA evidence helps to replace other forms of evidence as indisputable, the Innocence Project tested the validity of eyewitness claims. The project assessed past court cases where there was evidence that was not tested for DNA. The project initially exonerated 130 people by testing the DNA evidence and comparing it to the defendant.

Out of these first 130 people who were falsely imprisoned, 78 of them experienced eyewitness testimony during their initial case. The eyewitness testimony has been determined to be inaccurate in these cases. This opens up the door for any criminal defense lawyer to question the validity of eyewitness testimony.

It comes down to reliability and confidence

Researchers have evaluated why jurors are falling victim to false eyewitness testimony. What was revealed is that people who are confident in their answers and have a reliable lifestyle are more easily trusted as right in the eyes of the jury. One study was done on eyewitnesses who were between the ages of 60 and 80. These eyewitnesses tended to show a high level of confidence in their testimony and were believed by the jurors to be accurate. However, they tended to be inaccurate more often than college-aged students.

Although eyewitness testimony has been a long-time major form of evidence used in criminal court cases, recent studies suggest that it should be taken with a grain of salt. Jurors are believing false testimony because eyewitnesses are showing a general sense of reliability and confidence. It’s more important than ever before for attorneys to combat any negative eyewitness testimony for their clients.