How accurate is eyewitness testimony?

These days, there are few forms of evidence that are as convincing as eyewitness testimony, which may lead you to believe that eyewitness accounts are frequently accurate. Science suggests otherwise, however, which is unfortunate given just how much stock judges and juries typically place on eyewitness accounts.

According to the Association for Psychological Science, eyewitness testimony is actually far less accurate than most people assume, but many people wind up receiving convictions for their criminal charges based on eyewitness testimony nonetheless. Part of the problem may have to do with a prevailing presumption that personal memories are similar to the recordings on a video camera, which is not accurate.

Problems associated with eyewitness accounts

Contrary to popular belief, your memories do not record in your brain as they do on a video camera. Instead, eyewitness accounts are often a combination of accurate information and fictional information. They are also subject to change based on outside circumstances.

Another problem associated with eyewitness accounts is that many people mistakenly assume that those who witness criminal acts may be more prone to remember them clearly because they were especially stressful events. However, evidence suggests that people are actually less likely to accurately recall events when stressed or under duress, again calling into question the accuracy of eyewitness testimony.

Statistics surrounding eyewitness accounts

DNA evidence became an important part of forensic science in the 1980s, and many older cases underwent review once DNA testing became available. A study performed by the Innocence Project, which works to exonerate wrongly convicted people, revealed just how often inaccurate eyewitness testimony led to criminal convictions. More specifically, since 1989, 358 people facing death sentences were exonerated from crimes based on new DNA evidence. More than 70% of those people received their initial convictions because of eyewitness testimony.

In summary, eyewitness accounts are not at all as accurate or reliable as you may like to think. This is regrettable, given just how much depends on the words of eyewitnesses.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Find Out How The Law Office of Kristin R. Brown, PLLC Can Help Your Case

Call 214-446-3909 for a free 15-minute, initial phone consultation with a criminal defense lawyer. You may also email her firm to explain your legal needs or request your free 15-minute phone consultation.

"I would recommend her to anyone for any matter. Anyone would be lucky to have her on their side." – Gina, former client

Email Us For A Response

How Can We Help You?

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information
disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

close

Privacy Policy

  • Super Lawyers Avvo 10.0 AV Preeminent Dallas
  • Trial Lawyers College State Bar Of Texas The National Trail Lawyers
  • Seal Of The Supreme Court Of United States The College Of The State Bar Of Texas Texas Wesleyan School Of Law
The Law Office of Kristin R. Brown Awards

The Law Office of Kristin R. Brown
17304 Preston Road
Suite 1250
Dallas, TX 75252

Phone: 214-446-3909
Dallas Law Office Map