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How eyewitness can become problematic in court

On Behalf of | Jan 4, 2023 | Federal Crimes |

If you have been accused of a crime in Florida, accurate eyewitness testimony is crucial to your defense. Yet, not all identification of alleged perpetrators may be valid, depending on the method used to elicit information from the eyewitness. Inaccurate eyewitness accounts are the most significant factor in wrongful convictions.

Factors involved in eliciting eyewitness information

Three variables can affect the accuracy of eyewitness testimony, which in turn, can affect criminal defense. These are:

  • Situational variables – the characteristics of the crime scene, such as light, darkness, weather, etc.
  • Target variables – what the witness perceives at the time of the incident
  • Witness variables – the person’s age, if they have visual or hearing impairment

While law enforcement and court personnel can do little to influence the three previously mentioned variables, a fourth variable involving the justice system can influence the value of eyewitness testimony or, if misapplied, have disastrous results. Law enforcement typically ask eyewitnesses to identify suspect in two manners: through a lineup or a show-up at the crime scene. Show-ups can become especially problematic for suspects due to several additional factors. Researchers have theorized that the way show-ups are staged can influence an eyewitness memory to elicit a response to incriminate the suspect further. Show-ups also pose problems when multiple eyewitnesses must be kept apart from each another.

An aggressive defense can help your case

Eyewitness accounts can have a powerful effect on assault and other violent crimes. Providing your own eyewitnesses who will testify on behalf of your innocence can help but may not be enough. Pay attention to any lineups or show-ups you are involved in so that your defense can incorporate proof of any possible procedural irregularities.