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Does an eyewitness guarantee a court will convict you?

On Behalf of | Jan 6, 2022 | Criminal Defense

If the prosecution announces they have an eyewitness willing to testify they saw you, it might feel like a blow to your case. Yet, it does not always play out like that.

Eyewitness evidence is not always reliable, despite many people making it out to be. Eyewitnesses have gotten it wrong on many occasions, as DNA evidence has later proven. If someone is prepared to accuse you of a crime, your California criminal defense attorney needs to prepare to dispute their version of events.

How can your defense attorney challenge someone who testifies to seeing you commit a crime?

While this is not an exhaustive list or necessarily the steps your attorney while take, these are possibilities they may entertain for your defense:

  • Does the eyewitness have an ulterior motive? Some people are willing to lie in court to save themselves or someone close to them from going to jail. Investigating their past and connections may reveal information that could help your case.
  • How good was the visibility on the night in question? Extreme weather conditions and poor lighting can affect a person’s ability to make an accurate identification.
  • Do they have any medical conditions that affect memory? Human memory is not the most reliable. Whether intentional or not, forgetting memories entirely, or not remembering specific details is a part of our nature. Certain mental health conditions can further reduce the ability to remember things.
  • Were they under the influence of alcohol or drugs? Your attorney may look into what the eyewitness was doing before they allege seeing you. If drinking or drugs had been involved on the day in question, it may diminish the validity of their claim.

Prosecutors may use the threat of an eyewitness to pressure you into accepting a plea deal. However, your criminal defense attorney can help you challenge an eyewitness statement and defend against the charges you face.