Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys

How accurate are eyewitness testimonies?

On Behalf of | Jun 8, 2024 | Federal Crimes

During a federal criminal case, an eyewitness may be brought in to testify against the defense. The eyewitness may recount events involving the defense’s criminal actions. Many cases have depended on eyewitness testimonies. However, the accuracy of an eyewitness’s memory may not be as accurate as many people would believe. 

It is possible for an eyewitness to be wrong. While they may have been present during an alleged crime, there are certain elements that could affect their ability to recall memories. As a result, it is possible that many people have been wrongly charged for crimes they were not involved in. Here is what you should know:

The dangers of time, memory bias and implanted memories

There have been many studies that have shown memories are not as perfect as many people would believe. Memories do not work like video cameras, they are very malleable and can be influenced. There are several factors that can influence an eyewitness’s memories, such as time, biases and implanted memories. 

Over time, memories may not be as accurate. A memory being retold many times may begin to lack important details or be retold in a way that is better for storytelling. As a result, the accuracy of the memory may put a defendant in a bad light.

A person’s memory may be influenced by someone’s bias. If someone is more likely to suspect African Americans and teens to commit crimes, then their biases may fill in certain gaps in a memory to make that appear true. 

Memories may also be implanted. Someone could suggest events happened in a particular way to make a defendant look as if they did commit a crime. 

People facing federal criminal charges may need to learn about their defense options by speaking with someone who understands the law.