Strategic Defense
From A Former Prosecutor

How accurate are eyewitness accounts?

On Behalf of | Dec 15, 2022 | Criminal Defense

In a criminal case, the court may bring forth an eyewitness to testify against an alleged criminal. The eyewitness may state that they saw the defendant act against the law and, having witnessed it in person, may be able to provide accurate details on who was involved in the crime and their actions.

While many people take eyewitness accounts as entirely truthful since they weren’t involved in the case and should have no reason to lie, there is one big flaw that affects people nationwide – the brain doesn’t record memories like video. What does this mean? Here’s what you should know:

People create artificial memories all the time

Most people don’t remember every tiny detail that happens in their life. The brain can only account for so much information and a lot of the rest of the details are added in, so some memories may be more fiction than fact. While it’s not entirely clear why the brain alters memories, it can make it difficult for someone to convince others that they weren’t involved in a criminal case.

When an eyewitness takes the stand, their account may not be entirely credible. Often, that’s not because they’re purposefully lying. It’s not like memories can be inserted directly into someone’s head. Rather, people often only witness so much detail and reconstruct facts based on the most recently obtained information. For example, police may make suggestions to an eyewitness who’s inclined to believe law enforcement — and that can subconsciously affect what they believe they remember.

When dealing with a criminal case, an eyewitness, no matter how credible they are, can present false accounts. You may need someone knowledgeable in the law when creating a strong criminal defense