New Mexico juries rely on eyewitness testimony all too often to make decisions. Some people who are convicted of a crime based on eyewitness testimony alone find that the justice system has failed them. While eyewitness testimony has always been held as a highly praised form of evidence, research into them is starting to create more doubt.
What is eyewitness testimony?
As part of a court case, the plaintiff may decide to call an eyewitness to the stand. This eyewitness is a person who witnessed the event firsthand. During the trial, they will be asked to recall the events from the incident. Whether or not the eyewitness testimony is considered accurate depends on a few different factors.
Those listening to elderly eyewitnesses may have a bias due to the fact of their age. Memory is not as sharp at age 85 as it is at age 25. This is a factor that needs to be considered when an eyewitness is giving their testimony.
A common criminal defense strategy is asking specific questions to confuse the eyewitness. Typically, when an eyewitness stutters or is unable to recall specific elements of an incident, they are considered more unreliable in the eyes of the jury. When the jury members consider if a person’s eyewitness testimony is unreliable, they’re less likely to convict the defendant in the case.
Statistics about eyewitness testimony
In an effort to determine just how accurate eyewitness testimony is, one study examined various cases regarding eyewitness testimony and the use of DNA evidence. In all these cases, DNA testing was not available at the time the trial happened. The study obtained the evidence from the scene and perform DNA testing to determine whether or not the convicted defendant actually had DNA at the scene. It was found that 130 people were falsely convicted of crimes. Out of the 130 people, 78 of them were convicted based on another person’s eyewitness testimony.
As more and more people are starting to question the validity of eyewitness testimony on a consistent basis, it’s becoming a hot topic of discussion. Due to the recent study revealing that over 78 individuals were convicted based on inaccurate eyewitness testimony alone, it’s become clear that eyewitness testimony is not always reliable.