18 U.S. Code 3502 covers the admissibility in evidence of eyewitness testimony. It states that “the testimony of a witness that he saw the accused commit or participate in the commission of the crime for which the accused is being tried shall be admissible in evidence in a criminal prosecution in any trial court ordained and established under article III of the Constitution of the United States.”
There are many ways in which eyewitness testimony plays a role in a variety of criminal cases, from selecting the alleged perpetrator from a lineup, to taking a look at police sketches and many other methods. Eyewitnesses will sit down and talk with police by giving them a statement about the events that surrounded the crime as best they can, and even sometimes testify in court. However, sometimes this eyewitness testimony may not be entirely correct – leading to devastating results when a false identification is made.
A Juror’s Take on Eyewitness Testimony
Over the years, mistakes have unfortunately been made in regards to eyewitness testimony. For instance, a man was convicted of rape and murder of a nine-year-old girl in the 80s and served nine years in prison before DNA testing proved him innocent. The Innocence Project currently uses DNA testing to exonerate those who have been wrongfully convicted of crimes. Because we see these cases all the time on the news, surveys show that jurors place heavy weight on this testimony when they decide whether or not a suspect is guilty. Jurors usually only give heavy weight to testimonies where an eyewitness says they are very sure and highly confident.
There are many factors that can lead to errors in identification. For instance, perhaps the witness was under extreme stress during the crime scene or during the identification process. Perhaps there was a disguise being used by the perpetrator or a lack of distinctive features. Because many factors can play a role in misidentification, you should have a specialized attorney on your side during the difficult times in your case. If you have been charged with a serious crime, we want to hear from you. We can help you defend your rights in your time of need.