A wrongful conviction is devastating. The justice system is supposed to be on your side, but now you’re going to jail for something you did not do. It feels unjust and unfair and surreal.
Even though the American justice system is designed to prevent this from happening, it still does happen. An untold number of people have been put behind bars unjustly. What is the biggest reason why this happens?
It’s simple: Eyewitness misidentification.
The witness takes the stand and points you out as the guilty party. He or she is incredibly confident. You know it wasn’t you, but the jury sees that confidence and assumes you are lying to protect yourself.
In the modern era, DNA evidence has helped to overturn some wrongful conviction cases. That is how we know how much of a negative role eyewitness testimony has played. Of all the cases that DNA evidence has helped to overturn, inaccurate witness statements were made in 70 percent of them.
Why are witnesses wrong? The reasons vary. Things happened too quickly. People were under stress. They saw something at a distance and made a mistake. They mixed up two different people, perhaps because their race or other characteristics made them look similar.
If you’re facing allegations, it is important to know that witness testimony is no longer trusted the way that it was in the past. There is just too much evidence that witnesses make mistakes. Considering the potential ramifications of these mistakes, it is crucial for you to fully understand all of the legal defense options that you have.