How Reliable Is Eyewitness Testimony in Florida?
When you face criminal charges, your case might end up in court. During the trial, eyewitnesses may play a significant role in whether your case ends in a conviction. Judges and juries tend to believe witnesses because they often do not have relation to either the defendant or plaintiff and have no preference on the case’s outcome. How reliable are witnesses, though? Memory fades over time, and nothing can compare to video or photographic evidence. Furthermore, there might be multiple problems with eyewitness testimony.
At The Umansky Law Firm, we understand that witness statements are not always accurate. That is why we will conduct a thorough investigation into the incident. We may also cross-examine witnesses and question their account of the alleged crime.
Are Witnesses Reliable?
According to the Association for Psychological Science, eyewitness statements are much more subjective than many people realize. A convincing witness is not the same as one who is accurate. The Innocence Project revealed that 71% of convictions since 1989 resulted from misidentification from an eyewitness. Of those false identifications, 41% involved a cross-racial misidentification.
The issue with eyewitness statements is that they solely rely upon the accuracy of the witness’s memory, vision, and ability to recollect information from the crime scene. Additionally, many studies show that people under pressure are less likely to remember specific details. Many factors may distort an eyewitness’s perception or recollection of an event, such as:
- Power of suggestion: Human minds are highly susceptible to suggestion. New details about the case may change a person’s view of what occurred. Additionally, many people unintentionally change the events of an incident to align with their beliefs or prejudices.
- Weapon being used: Victims and witnesses may be more likely to forget critical details about the incident if the alleged perpetrator used a weapon during the crime. If the alleged suspect used a violent weapon, such as a firearm, the witness might not have seen their face or other noticeable details.
- Elapsed time from the incident: Some trials may take years after the alleged crime occurred. In this time, a witness’s memory can fade or change drastically.
- Poor conditions: The crime may have occurred in poor lighting, during heavy rain, or the perpetrator wore a disguise may contribute to a witness misidentifying a suspect. Ultimately, the witness may not have had a good view of the suspect.
- Racial disparities: The Innocence Project also pointed out that people are less likely to identify a person of a different race.
Additionally, police officers often ask witnesses to identify a suspect through lineups. When the officer conducting the lineup knows who the suspect is, they might unintentionally give signals to the witness. For example, the police might use a photographic lineup. If one photo is bigger or lit better than others, it may cause that picture to stand out more. This might encourage the witness to pick out that suspect.
Contact the Criminal Defense Attorneys at The Umansky Law Firm
Florida state prosecutors take criminal charges very seriously and will look to convict in court. They will likely have witnesses to testify against you in court. Without having an Orlando criminal defense attorney on your side to cross-examine the witness, a jury may be easily convinced that you are guilty. Protect your future today and contact The Umansky Law Firm.
We have former state prosecutors and public defenders from the local and state levels on our team, so you can be confident that we will do everything possible to protect your legal rights. That includes questioning the accuracy of witness identifications and statements. To learn more about how we can help you, schedule a free consultation by calling our office or completing our online contact form.