The Validity of Eyewitness Testimony
March 21, 2023
There’s nothing easy about facing a criminal trial, and it’s normal to feel uneasy, confused, or overwhelmed with the entire process. No one should attempt to do this on their own, which is why working with an experienced criminal defense attorney is essential. When you have a trusted legal partner working on your side, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that although this will be a difficult process, you’ll have someone in your corner fighting for your best interests. One aspect of criminal trials that many defendants are understandably worried about is how evidence will be used for and against them—specifically eyewitness testimony. The legal team at the Law Offices of Thomas R. Cox III can help with every aspect of facing a criminal charge and represents clients in Dallas, Texas as well as Irving, Mesquite, Grand Prairie, Highland Park, University Park, and Dallas County. Call today to learn more.
Role of Eyewitness Testimony in a Trial
Eyewitness testimony is a very specific type of evidence in criminal trials that can be used by both the prosecution and the defense. This kind of evidence is often very persuasive and can have a dramatic effect in the courtroom. It can be used in many different ways, typically to establish facts and timelines, corroborate details already outlined, identify individuals who were involved in the alleged crimes, or establish alibis. Alternatively, it’s also used to add scientific evidence to a trial such as fingerprints, DNA findings, or expert testimony from doctors, psychologists, or other specialists. And, even though these testimonies are often sensational, the validity of eyewitness testimony can’t always be taken at face value and there are considerations you need to be aware of.
Pros and Cons of Eyewitness Testimony
Eyewitness testimony is most effective in a jury trial because people tend to trust it when deliberating on the verdict. It’s also very helpful to reconstruct a timeline of events that a judge or jury can then frame the entire incident around and better understand what happened. Perhaps the most impactful use of this kind of testimony is when an eyewitness can positively identify the culprit and saw them carry out the crime.
That said, it does have its limits. It’s well known that an individual’s memory is not wholly reliable and memories can be altered and changed with time and the circumstances of the event. For example, if a witness claims they saw someone commit a crime, but it was later discovered they were intoxicated at the time, this could call their testimony into question. Or, if it’s been several months or over a year since the incident, it’s more likely that the eyewitness will misremember what actually happened or be more susceptible to outside influences that could affect their memory.
How Influential Is Eyewitness Testimony?
Even given the potential drawbacks of eyewitness testimony, it can still be very effective when used in court. However, an experienced attorney will know how to question and cross-examine witnesses to elicit the truth and call into question inconsistencies. They will also know which witnesses to call who can help your case and which witnesses may do more harm than good.
Turn to Reliable Legal Guidance
If you’re facing criminal charges near Dallas, Texas, reach out to the Law Offices of Thomas R. Cox III. Tom Cox has been helping people like you for nearly 30 years, and he knows that you’re more than the crime you’re being accused of. Call today to speak with a knowledgeable lawyer who will take the time to educate you on your options and work with you to build a defense that gives you the best chances of success.