The moment you find out the prosecution has an eyewitness, your hopes for escaping a conviction might plummet. Even if you know you are innocent, you might assume that a court is bound to believe what they say.
Thankfully, it is not as cut and dried as you think. While jurors and judges might have a natural inclination to trust an eyewitness, there is plenty of evidence to show how unreliable they can be. Consider these three things:
1. Does the eyewitness have any ulterior motive?
If the eyewitness is a kindly-looking pensioner, you might struggle to work out what could motivate them to take the stand other than believing she has valid information. If, however, it is someone who has a grudge against you, or someone who may be trying to cover for their own criminal actions, you have plenty to investigate.
2. What were the conditions like at the time of the sighting?
Did the alleged crime happen on a dark stormy night, with lashing rain and lightning strikes that cut the power, putting the street lamps outs? Or was it a bright sunny day where visibility was excellent? The worse the conditions, the harder it would have been for someone to accurately see what went on. Their distance from the event and how long they saw it are also factors to consider when looking at their reliability.
3. How good are their eyesight and memory?
Some of us have much better vision than others, and some have much better memories. Mental health issues and addictions could also help you cast doubt on the veracity of someone’s account.
Getting legal help will be crucial if you need to show a court that an eyewitness was wrong.