Reasons Why Eyewitness Testimony May Be Unreliable

It isn’t uncommon for Georgia residents to be convicted of crimes based on mistaken identifications. In some cases, witnesses are pressured to choose a person out of lineup even if they aren’t sure if the perpetrator is in that lineup. This is partially because they want to be helpful to a police officer or other authority figure. An officer may also guide a person toward making a choice in an effort to get closer to solving a case.

It is also possible that a witness truly believes that he or she can positively identify the person who committed a crime. However, that person may actually be relying on images seen on social media or on television to guide his or her decision-making process. It has been suggested that authorities encourage witnesses to refrain from investigating a case on their own prior to identifying a potential defendant.

Police sketches can also be problematic because people don’t process faces by their individual features. Multiple Supreme Court justices have called witness identification tactics potentially unreliable. Justice Sotomayor said that they could be a threat to a person’s right to a fair trial. Jurors who hear a case aren’t present when a defendant is identified, which means that they can’t know if the process of doing so was fair or accurate.

A person who is charged with a crime is generally entitled to the assistance of a criminal defense attorney. People who are in such a position might find it advisable to meet with legal counsel as soon as possible so that a strategy to combat the particular allegations can be constructed.

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